Thousands of migrants reach Huixtla town, some 40 km from where they started on Monday as some regional leaders meet at Summit of the Americas to hammer out deal on managing migrant flows.

Mexico has dissolved smaller caravans this year through force, but more recently by offering them transportation to other cities farther north where they could legalise their status.
Mexico has dissolved smaller caravans this year through force, but more recently by offering them transportation to other cities farther north where they could legalise their status. (AP)

Several thousand migrants have continued to walk on through southern Mexico, covering ground while authorities showed no signs yet of trying to stop them.

The largest migrant caravan of the year provided a live illustration on Tuesday to regional leaders meeting in Los Angeles this week at the Summit of the Americas of the challenges governments face in managing immigration flows.

Mexico has dissolved smaller caravans this year through force, but more recently by offering them transportation to other cities farther north where they could legalise their status.

Luis García Villagran, a migrant advocate travelling with the caravan, said negotiations for such a resolution were already taking place, but nothing had firmed up.

The caravan reached the town of Huixtla on Tuesday, about 40 kilometres from Tapachula, where they started on Monday.

READ MORE: Migrant caravan sets out in Mexico for US

Holding back migrants 

Mexico has tried to contain migrants to the south, far from the US border. But many have grown frustrated there by the slow bureaucratic process to regularise their status and the lack of job opportunities to provide for their families.

Mexico's asylum agency has been overwhelmed with requests in recent years as policies leave migrants few other options than to request asylum so they can travel freely. Last year, Mexico received more than 130,000 asylum requests, more than triple the year before. This year, requests are already running 20 percent above last year.

The phenomenon of migrant caravans took off in 2018. Previously, smaller annual caravans moved through Mexico to highlight migrants’ plight, but without the stated goal of reaching the US border.

But then several thousand migrants began walking together, betting on safety in numbers and a greater likelihood that government officials would not try to stop them. It worked at first, but more recently the Guatemalan and Mexican governments have been far more aggressive in moving to dissolve the caravans before they can build momentum.

While the caravans have garnered media attention, the migrants travelling in them represent a small fraction of the migratory flow that carries people to the US border every day, usually with the help of smugglers.

US summit 

The Biden administration had hoped to hammer out a regional agreement on managing migrant flows at the summit, but the presidents of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are not attending, a notable absence of some of the leading migrant-sending and transit countries.

Keira Lara, a 30-year-old from El Salvador, trudged down the highway on Tuesday with three of her four children. She had just arrived in Mexico a week earlier and only heard about the summit once she joined the caravan on Monday. She said government officials had demanded money from her at every border they crossed.

Of the leaders meeting in Los Angeles this week she asked "that they let us pass, that there isn't so much corruption in governments, because that's why people migrate."

READ MORE: US downplays spat as Mexico snubs Summit of the Americas

Source: AP