Juchitan, Nov 1 (AP/UNB) — Thousands of weary Central Americans in a migrant caravan aiming to reach the United States had their visions of quick transport hundreds of miles ahead to Mexico City dashed Wednesday as dozens of hoped-for buses failed to materialize.
The migrants took the day off from walking and hitching rides in packed trucks from small town to small town as representatives tried to negotiate rides for all 4,000 or so in hope of relief from the long and exhausting grind.
But as the day wore on there was no sign Mexican authorities intended to accede to the demand, and by evening leaders acknowledged it wasn't going to happen.
"The attempt to travel by bus failed," coordinator Walter Cuello said.
After spending the night at a city-owned property on the outskirts of the southern city of Juchitan, the migrants wandered around looking for something to eat as classic songs by Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez, known as "the king of ranchera music," played in the background. Loudspeaker announcements discussed bathroom use and a prohibition on charging money to power their cellphones.
Red Cross personnel bandaged the swollen feet of Honduran farmer Omar Lopez, who had pounded the hot asphalt of highways every day for the last two weeks after spending nights on concrete sidewalks with just a thin sheet of plastic for cover. Lopez said playing soccer back home had given him stamina but the "exaggerated" walk has taken its toll.
"The sacrifice is worth the effort," Lopez said. "I promised to buy my son a real motorcycle and I'm going to make good. I promised him many other things ... not only things, I also want to give them education. Everything good costs money."
Amid the increasing exhaustion of the migrants, a Guatemalan woman gave birth to the first known caravan baby at a hospital in Juchitan. Mexico's governmental National Human Rights Commission said it had arranged for medical attention for the woman, who was 28 weeks pregnant, and the girl was healthy.
The plan for Thursday was to set out around 3 a.m., taking advantage of the cool pre-dawn and morning temperatures to trek to Santa Maria Jalapa del Marques, about 35 miles (57 kilometers) to the west.
The migrants had not said what route they intended to take northward or where on the U.S. border they planned to reach, and Juchitan, still about 900 miles from U.S. soil, was something of a crossroads. Choosing Jalapa del Marques as the next destination appeared to indicate they were opting to travel via Oaxaca state's eponymous capital instead of turning north toward the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, the latter a common transit route toward McAllen, Texas.
In Washington on Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders praised Mexico for stopping the migrants from getting rides. "Mexico has stepped up in an unprecedented way," Sanders told Fox News. "They have helped stop a lot of the transportation means of these individuals in these caravans, forcing them walking. They have helped us in new ways to slow this down, to break this up and keep it from moving as aggressively toward the United States."
The Mexican government, has, in fact, taken a fairly contradictory stance on helping or hindering the first caravan, reflecting the country's balancing act: Officials don't want to irk Trump, but Mexicans themselves have long suffered mistreatment as migrants.
For the first week of the caravan, Mexican federal police sometimes enforced obscure safety rules, forcing migrants off paid mini-buses, citing insurance regulations. They also stopped some overloaded pickup trucks carrying migrants and forced them to get off. But in recent days, officials from Mexico's immigrant-protection agency have organized rides for straggling women and children on the caravan as a humanitarian effort.
And police have routinely stood by as migrants piled aboard freight trucks.
A second, smaller group of 1,000 or so migrants who forced their way into Mexico on Monday was trailing some 250 miles back. They spent Tuesday night in the city of Tapachula.
Behind them, a third group of migrants from El Salvador had already made it to Guatemala, and on Wednesday a fourth group of about 700 Salvadorans set out from the capital, San Salvador, with plans to walk to the U.S. border, 1,500 miles away.
Salvadoran man Jose Santos, 27, brought his baby son with him on the quixotic quest.
"I didn't want to go, but I'm unemployed and I have to get money to buy food for my son," Santos said. "There is no work here, and the violence never stops."
The caravans combined represent just a few days' worth of the average flow of migrants to the United States in recent years. Similar caravans have occurred regularly over the years and passed largely unnoticed, but U.S. President Donald Trump has seized on them to try to make border security a hot-button issue less than a week before midterm elections.
The Pentagon has announced it will deploy 5,200 troops to the Southwest border, though federal law restricts the military from engaging in law enforcement on U.S. soil. So their role would largely be limited to activities such as providing helicopter support for border missions, installing concrete barriers and vehicle maintenance, rather than detaining migrants.
Trump said Wednesday that the number could go as high as 15,000. He also tweeted: "We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!"
Worn down from long miles of walking and frustrated by the slow progress, many migrants have done just that, dropping out and returning home or applying for protected status in Mexico. The initial group is significantly diminished from its estimated peak at more than 7,000 migrants. A caravan in the spring ultimately fizzled to just about 200 people who reached the U.S. border at San Diego.
Mexican Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida said about 2,300 have applied to stay in Mexico under a government plan, and hundreds more have accepted assisted repatriation.
New York, Nov 1 (AP/UNB) — Police investigating the mysterious deaths of two Saudi Arabian sisters whose bound bodies washed up on New York City's waterfront on Oct. 24 say it appears they were alive when they went into the water.
New York City police said Wednesday that 16-year-old Tala Farea and 22-year-old Rotana Farea were last seen Sept. 24 in Virginia, where they lived, and appear to have traveled together to New York.
Investigators haven't determined how the sisters died. They say there were no obvious signs of trauma.
The sisters' mother told detectives that a Saudi official called her the day before the bodies were discovered and said the family had to leave the U.S. because her daughters had applied for political asylum.
The NYPD says there's no known nexus between the sisters' death and the Saudi government.
Washington, Oct 31 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump says the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil "will be ended one way or the other."
As Trump considers an executive action to curtail what he terms "so-called Birthright Citizenship," he tweets that "It is not covered by the 14th Amendment."
He added Wednesday: "Many legal scholars agree" with his interpretation.
In fact, House Speaker Paul Ryan and scholars widely pan the idea that Trump could unilaterally change the rules on who is a citizen. And it's highly questionable whether an act of Congress could do it, either.
Trump has discussed the issue before and reinjected it into the political conversation just days before the 2018 midterms as he looks to energize his base.
Mexico, Oct 31 (AP/UNB) — Thousands of Central American migrants in a caravan traveling through Mexico planned to rest at least a day or longer in the southern city of Juchitan beginning Wednesday, hoping to organize mass transport northward after days of hard walking in tropical temperatures that have left them about 900 miles from the nearest U.S. border crossing.
A second, smaller group, of 1,000 or so migrants who forced their way into Mexico on Monday was trailing some 250 miles back, stopping for the night in the city of Tapachula.
At a Tuesday evening assembly, participants in the bigger group named a committee to negotiate with Mexican authorities over a possible "bridge plan" that could leapfrog them to the Mexico's capital by bus. There was no indication from officials whether the request to transport the perhaps 4,000 people remaining in the group would be granted.
Starting out in Honduras more than two weeks ago, the caravan migrants have spent their nights camping out in the main squares of small cities in the southern states of Chiapas and now Oaxaca. But a deadly earthquake last year destroyed Juchitan's central market, prompting it to be provisionally moved to the main square — meaning there was no room for them there.
Instead they spent the night on a municipal-owned lot on the outskirts of town where a high ceiling sheltered a cement floor. Outside the structure many more bedded down on blankets or cardboard sheets in the grass, with some lashing tarps to the foliage for rudimentary shelter.
Full tanks of water were set up for people to be able to bathe, and a large video screen showed soccer programming and then cartoons for the kids.
The two groups combined represent just a few days' worth of the average flow of migrants to the United States. Similar caravans have occurred regularly over the years, passing largely unnoticed, but the new ones have become a hot-button political issue amid an unprecedented pushback from U.S. President Donald Trump.
With just a week to U.S. midterm elections, the Pentagon has announced it will deploy 5,200 troops to the Southwest border, and Trump has continued to tweet and speak about the migrants. On Monday he said he wants to build tent cities to house asylum seekers, and Tuesday he floated the possibility of ending the constitutional right to U.S. citizenship for babies born in the country to noncitizens. Experts widely dismissed the idea that the president could unilaterally change the rules on who is a citizen and said it's highly questionable whether an act of Congress could do it, either.
"According to what they say, we are not going to be very welcome at the border," Honduran migrant Levin Guillen said when asked about Trump. "But we are going to try."
Guillen, a 23-year-old farmer from Corinto, Honduras, said he had been getting threats back home from the same people who killed his father 18 years ago. He has been on his own since his mother died four years ago, and he hopes to reach an aunt who lives in Los Angeles and have a chance to work and live in peace.
"We just want to a way to get to our final goal, which is the border," he said.
Worn down from long miles of walking and frustrated by the slow progress, many migrants have been dropping out and returning home or applying for protected status in Mexico. The initial group is already significantly diminished from its estimated peak at over 7,000-strong. A caravan in the spring ultimately fizzled to just about 200 people who reached the U.S. border at San Diego.
Deputy foreign ministers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico met Tuesday and agreed to coordinate "special attention" for the caravans, guaranteeing human rights, humanitarian assistance and "a safe, orderly and regular migration" in accordance with each country's laws.
Mexico's Interior Department said two Hondurans who requested entry were identified as having arrest warrants back home, one drug-related and the other for suspected homicide. They were deported. The department said in a statement that the men were part of "the migrant caravan," but did not say which group or specify when they were detained at checkpoints in the southern state of Chiapas.
Echoing their countrymen in the initial caravan, Hondurans in the second group talked of fleeing poverty and gang violence in one of the world's deadliest countries by homicide rates. They said asylum in the United States is their primary goal, but some expressed openness to applying for protected status in Mexico if that doesn't work out.
"Continue on to the United States, that is the first objective," said Carlos Enrique Carcamo, a 50-year-old boat mechanic. "But if that's not possible, well, permission here in Mexico to work or stay here."
Gerbert Hinestrosa, a 54-year-old traveling with his wife and teenage son, said he realizes it will be hard to achieve his dream of reaching the U.S.
"Right now I feel good," he said. "We have barely started, but I think it is going to be very difficult."
New York, Oct 31 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Two people were killed and another two injured in a helicopter crash in the northern part of the U.S. state of New York on Tuesday, local media reported.
The incident took place around 4:15 p.m. (2015 GMT Tuesday) when a maintenance helicopter got tangled in power lines and caught fire before crashing in Beekmantown.
The helicopter was contracted by the New York Power Authority, according to a spokesperson of the agency.
The victims include utility workers who were conducting line inspection.
There is yet no detail about the incident and the local police couldn't be reached immediately for comments.