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article imageMigrant caravan rests, regroups in Mexico City

By AFP     Nov 5, 2018 in World

A caravan of Central American migrants that has drawn near-daily Twitter tirades from President Donald Trump ahead of the US mid-term elections rested and regrouped Monday at a stadium-turned-shelter in Mexico City before pressing on.

With their sights set on reaching the United States, some 5,000 migrants, mainly from violence-plagued Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, are expected to converge on Mexico City in the coming days and then continue their northward trek, authorities said.

The first 470 arrived Sunday in Mexico City and spent the night at a stadium on the capital's east side, where authorities have set up a large camp to host them and provide food and water.

By late Monday morning, some 2,000 people had arrived at the camp, with 3,000 more expected to arrive by Wednesday as the fragmented caravan regroups after dispersing across the states of Puebla in central Mexico and Veracruz in the east, according to Mexico's National Human Rights Commission.

The migrants are sleeping mainly in tents, on the ground or on the cement bleachers of the stadium, in frigid nightime temperatures of around 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit) this time of year in the high altitude of Mexico City.

Many were nursing colds or mangled feet after a trek of more than 1,600 kilometers (some 1,000 miles) that began on October 13 in the city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

"I couldn't sleep. I was cold and coughing all night," said Honduran migrant Karla Membreno, 23, who is making the trek with her husband and brother-in-law.

But "we have to be strong. God gives us strength to carry on," she told AFP.

Two other large groups of Central American migrants comprising between 3,000 and 4,000 people in all are currently making their way across the southern Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, the National Human Rights Commission said.

Another 3,230 Central Americans who were traveling in caravans have requested asylum in Mexico, according to the interior ministry.

Trump has made immigration a key issue ahead of Tuesday's clutch mid-term vote, seen as a referendum on his presidency so far.

Calling the caravan a "national emergency," he has ordered some 7,000 troops to the border, and threatened to deploy as many as 15,000.

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