A Central American migrant caravan which was temporarily delayed by the Mexican government has regrouped, resuming their advance towards the US border on Sunday, according to AP.
The number of migrants swelled overnight to approximately 5,000 as the mile-long caravan set out toward the Mexican town of Tapachula. Several hundred asylum seekers have reportedly applied for refugee status in Mexico, while an estimated 1,500 remain on the Guatemalan side of the Suchiate River in the hopes of entering Mexico legally.
It was not immediately clear where the additional travelers had materialized from since about 2,000 had been gathered on the Mexican side Saturday night. They seemed likely to be people who had been waiting in the Guatemalan town of Tecun Uman and who decided to cross during the night.
They marched on through Mexico like a ragtag army of the poor, shouting triumphantly slogans like “Si se pudo!” or “Yes, we could!”
As they passed through Mexican villages on the outskirts of Ciudad Hidalgo, they drew applause, cheers and donations of food and clothing from Mexicans.
Maria Teresa Orellana, a resident of the neighborhood of Lorenzo handed out free sandals to the migrants as they passed. “It’s solidarity,” she said. “They’re our brothers.” -AP
The group has been referred to as an "attack caravan" by former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who cited a figure by Fox News host Laura Ingraham that the caravan would cost around $7,000 per person, or $28 million total when the size of the group was estimated at 4,000 people. At 5,000 strong, the caravan would cost $35 million.
If the new reports are correct the “attack caravan” from Central America is up to 4,000 people. If Laura Ingraham’s estimate is right and it costs about $7,000 per person where is the $28 million coming from. This is $28 million to attack American sovereignty.— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) October 19, 2018
Meanwhile, two men in white t-shirts were seen handing out what appears to be cash to the migrants last week, fueling speculation that the second such group this year has been professionally organized and funded.
The migrant caravan regrouped after Mexican authorities refused mass entry via a bridge over the Suchiate River - instead allowing small groups of migrants to enter for asylum processing, while giving 45-day visitor permits to others. That said, many of the migrants found ways to circumvent the Mexican government despite the deployment of hundreds of riot police upon President Trump's request.
But many became impatient and circumventing the border gate, crossing the river on rafts, by swimming or by wading in full view of the hundreds of Mexican police manning the blockade on the bridge. Some paid locals the equivalent of $1.25 to ferry them across the muddy waters. They were not detained on reaching the Mexican bank.
Sairy Bueso, a 24-year old Honduran mother of two, was another migrant who abandoned the bridge and crossed into Mexico via the river. She clutched her 2-year-old daughter Dayani, who had recently had a heart operation, as she got off a raft.
“The girl suffered greatly because of all the people crowded” on the bridge, Bueso said. “There are risks that we must take for the good of our children.” -AP
WATCH: Mexican police given stand-down order. Caravan allowed to pass through. pic.twitter.com/ftdcdagnxE— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) October 21, 2018
The Mexican Interior Department reported the receipt of 640 refugee requests by Hondurans at the border.
Federal police monitored the Caravan on Sunday via helicopter, while approximately 500 officers briefly shadowed the group on the highway - however according to AP, officers say taht their instructions were to allow the caravan to continue while maintaining traffic.
Trump isn't having it
President Trump reiterated his commitment to deploying the US military if the caravan isn't stopped. At a Friday rally in Scottsdale, Arizona, he said "But as of this moment, I thank Mexico. If that doesn’t work out, we’re calling up the military — not the Guard."
Trump reiterated his statements to reporters:
President Trump: "You have some very, very bad people in the caravan. You have some very tough criminal elements within the caravan. But I will seal off the border before they come into this country, and I'll bring out our military." https://t.co/SJoYwvF4mt pic.twitter.com/9TRUjfpmyr— The Hill (@thehill) October 21, 2018
On Sunday, Trump tweeted: "Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Souther Border. People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first, and if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away. The courts are asking the U.S. to do things that are not doable!"
Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Souther Border. People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first, and if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away. The courts are asking the U.S. to do things that are not doable!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2018
The Caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat Party. Change the immigration laws NOW!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2018
On Saturday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Hauert said: "The Mexican Government is fully engaged in finding a solution that encourages safe, secure, and orderly migration, adding: "both the United States and Mexico continue to work with Central American governments to address the economic, security, and governance drivers of illegal immigration."