Leader of migrant caravan says up to 15,000 could reach US border

Those at the front of the caravan were spotted holding a cross, and a banner that read "Exodus from poverty" in Spanish.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
The Mexican leader of a migrant caravan en route to the United States border has noted that it could grow in size, with as many as 15,000 asylum seekers joining along the way.

Luis Garcia Villagran, who heads the Center for Human Dignification and has a history of assisting migrants in their journey, began leading the northbound caravan on Christmas Eve, and the group has been slowly progressing through his home country toward the US.

According to the New York Post, Villagran and his group departed from Tapachula, a city in southern Mexico, on Christmas Eve, though most of the migrants hail from Haiti, Cuba, and Honduras.

Those at the front of the caravan were spotted holding a cross, and a banner that read "Exodus from poverty" in Spanish.

"Today the poorest of the poor are walking," Villagran said in an on-the-ground interview with France24. "Those of us who are on the cusp of need are walking. Those of us don't have money to pay for visas, those of us who don't have money to pay for a coyote, those of us who don't have money to pay for a smuggler."

Villagran said upon beginning his march that it was imperative that the group make it out of Tapachula as quickly as possible, noting that the city was struggling to deal with the influx of migrants arriving after passing through the nearby by border with Guatemala.

"The problem is that the [Mexico-Guatemalan] border is open and 800 to 1,000 people are crossing it daily," he said. "If we don't get out of Tapachula, the town will collapse."

He did not, however, mention the impact 15,000 migrants would have on American border towns, which have long been strained as they continue to deal with an unprecedented influx of newcomers.

If the caravan reaches its predicted size, it will be the largest to reach the US in a year. American Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to meet with Mexican President Andres Lopez Manuel Obrador in the coming days to discuss the issue.
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