Hundreds of migrants traveling north through Mexico brought traffic to a standstill Thursday, blocking an important highway between Mexico City and the east-central state of Puebla, witnesses say.
The migrants — many accompanied by children and carrying backpacks and other items — were spotted walking between cars and trucks along the highway. Some even lay down in the road to rest, a witness told Reuters.
The group left the San Martin Texmelucan municipality in Puebla early Thursday, and had started their trek north from the southeastern state of Chiapas in late October.
While some migrants were seen carrying food and water, others lacked the vital items.
“My son fainted, we don’t have food, we don’t have water,” one mother said, according to Reuters.
Some other migrants asked members of Mexico’s National Guard for food and water, as well as safe passage.
Recently, Mexican officials attempted to break up a migrant camp in the city of Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala, in order to keep migrants moving north. It is unclear if the group on the highway was a part of the group sent away from the camp.
According to the Spanish news agency EFE, another group of around 200 migrants had decided to bypass their intended destination of Mexico City and head directly for northern Mexico and the US border.
On Thursday, at least 54 people were killed and over 100 injured in a separate migrant caravan after a truck overturned in Chiapas. Many of the victims were believed to be migrants and included men, women and children, according to multiple reports.
In recent months, hundreds of migrants have traveled through Mexico in the hope of reaching the US, which has seen a record number of border crossings this year.
Earlier this week, the US reinstated the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy, which requires asylum seekers attempting to enter America by crossing the southern border to wait in Mexico until their cases are heard.
After several attempts by the Biden administration to end the policy, the US was forced to reinstate it by court order. Mexico came to a deal with the US last week, agreeing to reaccept the migrants with some changes to the original protocols.
The US is committing to complete proceedings within six months of an individual’s return to Mexico as well as providing more opportunities for asylum seekers to secure legal counsel.
American authorities will also be offering COVID-19 vaccines to all eligible migrants, as well as a vaccination requirement to re-enter the US. It is unclear at what point in the asylum process the jabs would be given.
The Biden administration is also looking to avoid separating families at the border — a common practice employed by the Trump administration under the policy.
On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will be requesting the public’s recommendations on how to avoid the “cruel” practice.
US Customs and Border Protection reported the apprehension of just over 164,000 migrants in October, the most recent month for which statistics are available. While it is the third month of decline since arrests hit a peak in July, the amount is more than double the number of apprehensions in October of last year.