DONAJI, Mexico – As President Donald Trump pushed ahead with his anti-migrant rhetoric in the run-up to Tuesday's election, the Central Americans, who traveled across Mexico, were exhausted in hopes of reaching the United States that they were mostly perplexed and turned away from his threats, which they exaggerated as perceived.
The US president spent the last days of the campaign working on the issue as he tried to revive the Republican voters. His favorite destination was the caravan for migrants of nearly 4,000 people, which is still more than 800 miles from the nearest US border. Three smaller ones follow behind.
One of Trump's recent statements is that he intends to sign an order that would allow migrants to cross the southern border and that anyone caught illegally crossing the country can not apply for asylum. Both proposals are legally doubtful. Trump also said he told the US military mobilizing on the southwestern border that if US troops face rock-throwing migrants, they should react as if the rocks were "rifles."
"It's pure ignorance for him to think that way," said Marta Cuellos, a 40-year-old from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. "A stone is not the same as a rifle."
While some migrants collided with Mexican policemen at a bridge on the border with Guatemala, most of the people traveling with the caravans were peaceful, saying they were fleeing violence and poverty at home. Those who travel through the southern state of Oaxaca on Friday said they are not looking for trouble.
Cuellos said she owns a cantina at home in Honduras, but left because she could not rent anymore and was harassed by the police. She persuaded her 35-year-old sister to join her on the trip and said the only thing they want is work and a better life in the United States. It is her second attempt. She first came to the US seven years ago, but was deported last year.
25-year-old Selvin Maldonado from Copan, Honduras, said he left his wife and young daughter at home looking for a better livelihood to feed their children. He took his 5-year-old son Dennys with.
"What Trump said is stupid," Maldonado said as he walked into the city of Donaji. "I do not want to attack the police because my request is my son."
The migrants were also dismissed by the US President of the Slow Caravan and the three smaller ones as "invasion". Trump suggested keeping migrants in massive tent cities on the border.
"We are not murderers," said Stephany Lopez, a 21-year-old Salvadoran with the first caravan. "We only want to work for a few years and then he can deport us if he wants."
Lopez noted that the president's mother, who was born in Scotland, was an immigrant.
"He should see us soon. Immigrants have built this land, "she said.
In June, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said domestic violence and gang violence were generally no longer accepted as grounds for granting asylum to migrants. Trump said this week that those in the caravan would not be granted asylum – although US law allows them to apply – and warned them to turn around.
The vehement opposition and strict rhetoric of the Trump government has at least some alternatives for the caravan.
Tifany Morandis, 19, traveled with her husband, 28-year-old Javier Sanchez, and their two sons, seven-year-old Angel and nine-month-old Cesar. Her nose and face were scorched in the street after many days. She said she was very tired and was considering staying in Tijuana, the Mexican border town opposite San Diego.
"Donald Trump made things very complicated at the border and it's better that we stay in Tijuana than fight him," Morandis said.
But many are hopeful. "Even stones can soften," said Cuellos.
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