HOUSTON - They started walking on Monday at 3 a.m., nearly 700 miles from where they began in San Pedro, Honduras, and at least 1,000 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It’s just broken,” Andres Monge said of the situation in Honduras. “There’s no work.”
Violence and the poor economy are two common reasons migrants give for what was, for many, a spontaneous decision to join the historic caravan of 5,000 to 7,000 people.
“We’re helping each other,” Roseman Hernandez said in Spanish. “That’s why we’re going as a group.”
The idea was political at first, organizers admitted. They wanted to make a statement against the ruling party in Honduras. But then the caravan exploded in size beyond anything organizers had imagined.
Most migrants told KPRC they don’t care about politics or the caravan organizers. When an organizer announced a press conference in Niltepec, where migrants stopped to rest on Monday, they ignored the announcement and did not attend the conference.
“We’re going to where God carries us,” Amilca Lopez said. “We’re working people. We’re not gang members.”
The Department of Homeland Security reported last week that there are some migrants with criminal records among the caravan.
But migrants we talked to insisted criminals and violence motivated them to risk their lives to make the exodus.
While many walked much of the 50 to 60 miles Monday, most hitched rides on trucks and trailers at least some of the way.
Municipal police in Zanatepec coordinated rides for some migrants, including rides in police trucks and government ambulances.
Municipal leadership and other volunteers provided food and water along the route. Some stopped to sleep under trees.
In Niltepec, charities, churches and other organizations met the caravan with food, medical care and other help.
Many migrants told KPRC they are headed to Houston to join cousins or other family members or friends.
“I want to fight for (my family) so they have a better life,” Hernandez said.
“It gives us a little bit of fear to hear him talking like that,” Hernandez said of President Donald Trump’s tweets about the caravan.
Migrants don’t have access to the internet. It takes time for information from America to travel. But migrants told KPRC they believe that, somehow, in some way, they will make it into the United States.
“Maybe something will happen” in the next month “before we arrive,” one migrant said in Spanish. “God will provide.”
For context, 7,000 people, which is the approximate upper number of people estimated to be in the caravan, are caught attempting to cross the southern border in Texas alone every week.
In September, Border Patrol agents in Texas apprehended 26,775 people between ports of entry. Across the southern border from Texas to California, agents apprehended 41,486 people in September between ports of entry.
In the fiscal year 2018, from September 2017 to September 2018, agents apprehended more than a half-million undocumented immigrants at and between ports of entry.
The overwhelming majority of those migrants are from Central America, increasingly from Honduras.
Trump has called the mass exodus a “national emergency.”
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