A new, smaller caravan of about 1,500 migrants sets out walking north from southern Mexico

 TAPACHULA, Mexico (AP) — A new, smaller caravan of about 1,500 migrants began moving north from southern Mexico on Thursday, a week after a larger group that set out on Christmas Eve largely disbanded.

Most of the migrants from Central and South America said they were tired of waiting in Mexico's southern city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border. He said there is a lot of work at processing centers for asylum or visa requests and the process can take months.

The migrants held a placard that read, "Migrating is not a crime, government repression against migrants is a crime."

The group managed to cross two highway control checkpoints on Thursday as immigration agents and National Guard troops stood guard there.

Migrant Alexander Giron said he left his native El Salvador because his wages could not cover basic needs.

In previous years, many people had left El Salvador due to gang-related violence. But even though the Salvadoran government has reduced the murder rate by cracking down on gangs, jailing thousands of people, Girón said he still has to quit.

"Protection is not enough if there is no work," said Giron, who is traveling with his wife and two teenage sons in hopes of reaching the United States. "Wages can't keep pace, everything is too expensive. We're going to look for work and give our sons a better life."

The first Christmas Eve caravan included about 6,000 migrants from Venezuela, Cuba and Central America. But after New Year's Day, the Mexican government convinced them to abandon their trip, promising that they would receive some type of unspecified document.

By the following week, about 2,000 migrants from that caravan had resumed their journey through southern Mexico, as the participants were forced to stay without the papers given to them by the Mexican government.

Placeholder migrants wanted transit or exit visas that would allow them to take a bus or train to the US border. But they were given papers barring holders from Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas, where work is scarce and local residents are largely poor. As of last week, only a hundred or two people had reached the border between the neighboring state of Oaxaca and the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, mainly on buses.
Mexico has in the past let migrants pass with the assurance that they would tire of walking on the highway. No migrant caravan has ever walked the full 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) to the US border.

In December U.S. officials met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to discuss ways Mexico could help stem the flow of migrants.

López Obrador confirmed that US officials want Mexico to do more to stop migrants at its border with Guatemala, or make it more difficult for them to move across Mexico by train or trucks or buses – a policy that Known as the "controversy".

Mexico felt pressure to address the problem when US officials briefly closed two critical Texas railway border crossings, claiming they were overwhelmed with processing migrants. This led to a blockade of grain heading south for Mexican exports to the US and Mexican livestock.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the increase in border crossings at the southwest U.S. border in December coincided with a period when "the immigration enforcement agency in Mexico was not funded."

López Obrador later said that funding shortfalls that had caused Mexico's immigration agency to suspend deportations and other operations had been resolved and some deportations later resumed.

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