Migrant Caravan Reaches Mexico Hundreds of migrants from Central America have crossed into Mexico and want to reach the United States.

Migrant Caravan Reaches Mexico

Migrant Caravan Reaches Mexico

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/659279137/659279138" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Hundreds of migrants from Central America have crossed into Mexico and want to reach the United States.


James Fredrick is a reporter based in Mexico City. He's been following the caravan of migrants and he's currently at the border between Guatemala and Mexico. James, welcome.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: I know the conditions have been really terrible there with lots of rain. This group of migrants has been at the Guatemala-Mexico border for over a day now. What is the scene there like today? I understand that, before, some of the migrants weren't being allowed to cross into Mexico. Have they been able to go? What's going on?

FREDRICK: It's been a really confusing scene over the last 24 hours or so. So thousands of people went on this bridge, which is the legal crossing into Mexico. They were hoping Mexican authorities were going to open the gate and let them in. They didn't feel like that was happening. And they kept waiting and waiting. And then people started crossing the river into Mexico. They were either swimming or getting rafts. And while the Mexican police stopped them from crossing the bridge, the official crossing into Mexico, migrants were crossing the river without a problem. Federal police were standing right there, watching them across the river. And so there are now thousands here on the Mexican side. People are trying to help out with food and water and things like that, but it is just so many people here right now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And I understand you've been speaking with some of the migrant families.

FREDRICK: Yeah, I met a couple of Honduran families who were camped out on the bridge. They were hiding out from the sun under tarps. And they invited me to sit down with them. I start with the basics. Do they have food and water, I ask 31-year-old Brenda as she breastfeeds her six-month-old. Everyone here asks I only use their first names, as they fear threats from gangs back home and blowback from the government.

BRENDA: (Speaking Spanish).

FREDRICK: "Not right now," she says. "Some spilled, and the rest ran out."

In the 24 hours they've been here, they've eaten once - a little plate of rice and tortillas. Brenda's surrounded by family - a sister, several nieces and nephews and her mother, Maria. Their reasons for leaving are things I've heard from so many families - extreme poverty, crime, threats from gangs. Maria's son was murdered a couple of years ago, and her neighbor was just murdered a few weeks back. They're desperate to be anywhere but back home. I tell them that President Trump says this march was a coordinated political effort by Democrats.

MARIA: No, no.

FREDRICK: Maria chimes in. She says she doesn't even know who or what the Democrats are.

MARIA: (Speaking Spanish).

FREDRICK: "It was our own decision," she says. "We asked for people to give us rides. We sold the little we had to come here. I'm doing this for my daughters and granddaughters." So why travel in this big caravan? "It's simple," says Brenda.

MARIA: (Speaking Spanish).

FREDRICK: "Because we all take care of each other," she says. "With unity, there's strength."

Especially in Mexico, where attacks against migrants both by police and criminals is rampant, a caravan means safety. But even in a caravan, the trip is rough for the children. There are a few infants, lots of kids, a few teenagers here. Samuel, a 40-year-old Honduran traveling with his wife and three young sons, chimes in.

SAMUEL: (Speaking Spanish).

FREDRICK: He says, "The kids are enduring heat. There's no food. We've only eaten because Guatemalans have been good to us. Come on," he says, "no one told us they'd give us money if we left. My wife and I made this decision." But this decision has his kids stuck on the bridge. I asked Samuel how it feels to see his sons like this. He struggles to get words out.

SAMUEL: (Speaking Spanish).

FREDRICK: "I know you people have a heart," he says. "You can feel this. You never went to see your children like this." They're waiting on the bridge, hoping Mexican authorities will let them in. They say they'll do whatever is asked of them, as long as they aren't sent back to Honduras. Their final destination is the U.S., where President Trump says he'll close the border on them.

SAMUEL: (Speaking Spanish).

FREDRICK: He says, "I believe Trump's heart may still be tender, and one day he will feel peace and happiness and do good for us. He won't regret doing it."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what happens to the migrants now?

FREDRICK: Well, there are now thousands of migrants here in Mexico. They got across the Mexico-Guatemala border. They were stopped at the bridge, but they're in the country now. I'm standing on the highway. And I can see a multitude of people marching on this highway that comes north into Mexico from the border.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And they say they're going to head to the United States?

FREDRICK: Yes. Their plan is to continue as a caravan to stick together. And they say they will continue marching. And yes, their goal is the United States.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We're less than three weeks away from the midterms here in the U.S. President Trump has been talking a lot about this caravan. He's demanding the Mexican government stop these migrants from reaching the border with the U.S., saying it's more important to him than a recent trade agreement. What's at stake for Mexico?

FREDRICK: It will be very interesting to see what happens here in Mexico because, as we saw, Mexican authorities used force to stop migrants from crossing the bridge, but they did not stop them crossing the river. So we don't know how Mexico's going to react, if they're going to block highways, if they're really going to use force to block this caravan. Clearly, they are concerned about looking like they are on board with Trump about this, about not letting this caravan move freely, but we don't know how they're going to react now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So a lot, indeed, at stake for Mexico. That's James Fredrick reporting from the Guatemala-Mexico border. Thanks so much.

FREDRICK: Thank you.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.