Splintered migrant caravan groups arrive at US border

Central American migrants moving as a caravan toward the U.S. border get a free ride on a truck at Ixtlán del Rio, Nayarit, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

ESCUINAPA, Mexico — Some migrants in a caravan of Central Americans have made long leaps forward in their journey to the U.S. border, with a first sizable group arriving in the border city of Tijuana, while others on Wednesday were left stranded far behind.

Authorities were struggling to deal with the group of 357 migrants who arrived in Tijuana aboard nine buses Tuesday and immediately went to a stretch of border fence to celebrate.

A couple of dozen migrants scaled the steel border fence to celebrate their arrival, chanting “Yes, we could!” and one man dropped over to the U.S. side briefly as border agents watched from a distance. He ran quickly back to the fence.

Tijuana’s head of migrant services, Cesar Palencia Chavez, said authorities offered to take the migrants to shelters immediately, but they initially refused.

“They wanted to stay together in a single shelter,” Palencia Chavez said, “but at this time that’s not possible” because shelters are designed for smaller groups and generally offer separate facilities for men, women and families.

But he said that after their visit to the border, most were taken to shelters in groups of 30 or 40.

With a total of three caravans moving through Mexico including 7,000 to 10,000 migrants in all, questions arose as to how Tijuana would deal with such a huge influx, especially given U.S. moves to tighten border security and make it harder to claim asylum.

On Wednesday, buses and trucks carried some migrants into the state of Sinaloa along the Gulf of California and further northward into the border state of Sonora.

The bulk of the main caravan appeared to be about 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) from the border, but was moving hundreds of miles per day.

Other migrants, however, were still stranded in the west-central state of Jalisco because they couldn’t get rides.

About 1,300 migrants in a second caravan were resting at a stadium in Mexico City, where the first group had stayed last week.

The Rev. Miguel Angel Soto, director of the Casa de Migrante – House of the Migrant – in the Sinaloa capital of Culiacan, said about 2,000 migrants had arrived in that area. He said the state government, the Roman Catholic Church and Escuinapa officials were helping the migrants.

The priest also said the church had been able to get “good people” to provide buses for moving migrants northward. He said so far 24 buses had left Escuinapa on an eight-drive to Navojoa in Sonora state.

Some small groups had broken off along the way and went on ahead, either using buses, trains or long-haul truck rides to get to the border quicker. Small groups were reported in the northern cities of Saltillo and Monterrey, in the region near Texas.

Many say they are fleeing poverty, gang violence and political instability in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Mexico has offered refuge, asylum or work visas, and its government said Monday that 2,697 temporary visas had been issued to individuals and families to cover them during the 45-day application process for more permanent status. Some 533 migrants had requested a voluntary return to their countries, the government reported.

The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to “harden” the border crossing from Tijuana ahead of the caravans.

Customs and Border Protection announced it was closing four lanes at the busy San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry in San Diego, California, so it could install infrastructure.

That still leaves a substantial path for the tens of thousands of people who cross daily: Twenty-three lanes remain open at San Ysidro and 12 at Otay Mesa.

San Ysidro is the border’s busiest crossing, with about 110,000 people entering the U.S. every day. That traffic includes some 40,000 vehicles, 34,000 pedestrians and 150 to 200 buses.

Migrants, who are part of the Central American caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, board buses in La Concha, Mexico, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. Buses and trucks are carrying some migrants into the state of Sinaloa along the Gulf of California and further northward into the border state of Sonora. The bulk of the main caravan appeared to be about 1,100 miles from the border, but was moving hundreds of miles per day. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)more
Central American migrants, as part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, rests while waiting to board buses to Sonora, in La Concha, Sinaloa province, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)more
Central American migrants, as part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, board buses to Sonora, in La Concha, Sinaloa province, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)more
Central American migrants, as part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, wait to board buses to Sonora, in La Concha, Sinaloa province, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)more
Central American migrants, as part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, wait to board buses to Sonora, in La Concha, Sinaloa province, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)more
Central American migrants get a ride on a bus provided by a group of humanitarian aid, in Ixtlán del Rio, Nayarit, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)more
A Catholic nun gives travel advice to Central American migrants riding in the bed of a semi-trailer, as they move toward the U.S. border, in Ixtlán del Rio, Nayarit, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)more
Central American migrants get a ride on a bus provided by a group of humanitarian aid, in Ixtlán del Rio, Nayarit, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)more
Central American migrants get a ride on a bus provided by a group of humanitarian aid, in Ixtlán del Rio, Nayarit, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)more
Central American migrants moving as a caravan toward the U.S. border get a free ride on a truck at Ixtlán del Rio, Nayarit, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)more
A Central American migrant moving with a caravan to the U.S. border walks past maguey farms as he walks away from Guadalajara, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Many migrants say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence and political instability primarily in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) more
Central American migrants moving as a caravan to the U.S. border get a free ride on a truck past maguey farms as they depart Guadalajara, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Many say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence and political instability primarily in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) more
A Central American migrant who is traveling with a caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, rests before leaving the Benito Juarez Auditorium that sheltered the migrants overnight in Guadalajara, Mexico, early Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Many migrants say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence and political instability primarily in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) more
A member of a Central American migrant caravan tries to fit himself into a truck's spare wheel compartment, parked on the highway connecting Guadalajara and Tepic, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Migrants thought buses would be waiting for them to take them through hurricane-ravaged Nayarit to the neighboring state of Sinaloa, further north, but no buses showed up and few trucks passed to pick them up, leaving many to walk. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) more
A Central American man who is traveling with a migrant caravan heading for the U.S. border kneels to beg for a free ride on the highway connecting Guadalajara with Tepic, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Migrants thought buses would be waiting for them to take them through hurricane-ravaged Nayarit to the neighboring state of Sinaloa, further north, but no buses showed up and few trucks passed to pick them up, leaving many to walk. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) more
A blanket discarded by a member of a Central American migrant caravan lies on the side of the highway that connects Guadalajara with Tepic, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. While migrants previously suffered from the heat on their journey through Honduras, Guatemala and southern Mexico, they now trek along highways wrapped in blankets to fend off the morning chill. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) more
A truck driver sits outside his cab as he refuses to give Central American migrants a free ride along the highway that connects Guadalajara with Tepic, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The thousands of Central American migrants left shelters in Guadalajara early Tuesday and were taken by bus to a highway tollbooth to wait for rides to their next destination, however, no other buses showed up and few trucks passed to pick them up, leaving many to walk. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) more
Central American migrants who are part of a caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border leave Guadalajara, Mexico, early Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. While they previously suffered from the heat on their journey through Honduras, Guatemala and southern Mexico, they now trek along highways wrapped in blankets to fend off the morning chill. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) more
Central American migrants who are traveling as a caravan toward the U.S. border are reflected on the side of a large cargo truck as they leave Guadalajara, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Migrants thought buses would be waiting for them to take them through hurricane-ravaged Nayarit to the neighboring state of Sinaloa, further north, but no buses showed up and few trucks passed to pick them up, leaving many to walk. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) more
Central American migrants travel as a caravan toward the U.S. border on the highway that connects Guadalajara with Tepic, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Many migrants say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence and political instability primarily in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) more
Central American migrants, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, receive water and oranges from people sympathetic to their plight, as they ride on the bed of a truck, on in their way to Mazatlan, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)more
Central American migrants, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, board a dump truck to in their way to Mazatlan, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)more
The shadows of Central American migrants, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, stand in a line to board buses, on their way to Mazatlan, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)more
Eleven-year-old Central American migrant Jason Joel, center, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, waits with his family and other migrants in the bed of a dump truck to in their way to Mazatlan, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)more
A Central American migrant, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, eats an orange while traveling on the bed of a truck, in his way to Mazatlan, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico.(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)more
A Central American migrant, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, carries his dog into a dump truck, on their way to Mazatlan, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)more