1 Year Since 1st Migrant Caravan Seen Travelling To U.S.
People had been migrating from Central America for decades, but October last year was the first time a river of thousands were being seen walking across screens in the U.S. Within days, President Donald Trump threatened to close the southwest border if the migrants were allowed to advance.
That first convoy changed the discourse over migration across the region. An estimated 250,000 U.S.-bound migrants have crossed into Mexico, and the country’s migration policy has vacillated in the year since then.
Former President Enrique Peña Nieto deployed officials to stop people arriving on foot with the caravan. When his successor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office Dec. 1, he initially ordered immigration officers to welcome migrants with water and food. But when Trump in May threatened to slap Mexico with import tariffs if the country didn’t reduce the volume of asylum border seekers, Mexican armed military police began confronting migrants.
More than 25,000 members of the Mexico's National Guard have been deployed. And thousands of migrants hoping to legally gain passage into the U.S. are now living in precarious conditions along Mexico’s southern and northern borders.
Ultimately, destitute migrants have become a bargaining chip between for trade negotiations between Mexico and the U.S.
“I think the Mexican government has given too little importance to migration,” said Nájera, who contributed to a report on migration through Mexico. “It didn’t anticipate how important of an issue migration has become.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: The story's headline has been updated to better reflect the caravan's migration.