SAN DIEGO (CBS SF/AP/CNN) — All along the U.S.-Mexico border, from Texas to California, tensions continued to mount Sunday as an ragged army of Honduran migrants streamed through southern Mexico.
The caravan was headed for Tapachula, a city about 23 miles north of the Mexico-Guatemala border, but ultimately the destination of many of the 5,000 immigrants is the U.S. border.
Besi Jaqueline Lopez of the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula carried a stuffed polar bear in a winter cap that seemed out of place in the tropical heat. It’s the favorite — and only — toy of her two daughters, 4-year-old Victoria and 3-year-old Elisabeth, who trudged beside her gleaming with sweat.
A business administration graduate, Lopez said she couldn’t find work back home and hopes to reach the United States, but would stay in Mexico if she could find employment here.
“My goal is to find work for a better future for my daughters,” she said.
A 20-year-old Honduran named William, told CNN he crossed into Mexico via a float that carried him across the muddy Suchiate River on Saturday.
He left home looking for work, he said, and was ultimately bound for either Mexico or the United States, wherever he could land a job.
“There is no work back home,” he said. “No future.”
Approximately 640 migrants requested asylum in Mexico, according to a statement from the Mexican government and the National Migration Institute.
Authorities have given “priority attention to 164 women, 104 children and elders,” the statement said, adding that some of the women are pregnant and there is at least one unaccompanied minor
After praising Mexico for its no-nonsense response when police at a southern border bridge pushed the migrants back with riot shields and pepper spray, President Donald Trump again hammered Democratic Party opponents over what he apparently sees as a winning issue for Republicans a little over two weeks ahead of midterm elections.
After blaming the Democrats for “weak laws” on immigration a few days earlier, Trump said via Twitter: “The Caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat party. Change the immigration laws NOW!”
“Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Souther (sic) Border,” he said in another tweet. “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!”
It’s unclear whether the caravan will be allowed to reach the US border. Mexican authorities previously outlined their plan to respond to the caravan once it arrived at the Mexican border.
• Anyone with a valid visa will be able to enter and move freely.
• Anyone who wants to be recognized as a refugee or as a beneficiary of “complementary protection measures” must do so individually. Those who do so will be held “at a migratory station” for as many as 45 business days.
• Anyone who enters “in an irregular manner” will be “rescued and subject to an administrative procedure and, where appropriate, will be returned to their country of origin in a safe and orderly manner.”
Mexican authorities also have said they’re asking for help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to process migrants seeking refugee status.
Meanwhile, Mexican citizens were also helping those in the caravan.
Jesus Valdivia, of Tuxtla Chico, Mexico, was one of the many who pulled his pickup truck over to let 10 or even 20 migrants hop in at a time, sometimes causing vehicles’ springs to groan under the weight.
“You have to help the next person. Today it’s for them, tomorrow for us,” Valdivia said, adding that he was getting a valuable gift from those he helped: “From them we learn to value what they do not have.”
Passing freight trucks were quickly boarded by dozens of migrants, and straining tuk-tuks carried as many as a half-dozen.
Brenda Sanchez of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, who rode in Valdivia’s truck with three nephews ages 10, 11 and 19, expressed gratitude to “God and the Mexicans who have helped us.”
She even had kind words for Mexican police: “We are very grateful to them because even though they closed the doors to us (at the border), they are coming behind us taking care of us.”
Federal police monitored the caravan’s progress from a helicopter and had a few units escorting it. Outside Tapachula, about 500 black-uniformed officers briefly gathered along the highway on buses and in patrol units, but they said their orders were to maintain traffic and not to stop the caravan.
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.