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Here’s what we know about when the migrant caravan will arrive, and what happens next

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migrant caravan
Honduran
migrant Jose Macy carries his four-year-old nephew Yair Perez as
the thousands-strong caravan of Central Americans migrants hoping
to reach the U.S. border moves onward from Juchitan, Oaxaca
state, Mexico, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.

Associated Press/Rodrigo Abd

  • The main caravan of roughly 4,000 Central American migrants
    is steadily moving north towards the United States border — but
    it has splintered into groups and remains hundreds of miles away.
  • There are some major unknown factors that make it unclear
    exactly when, where, and how the migrants will arrive at the
    US-Mexico border.

The caravan of some 4,000 Central American migrants who have been
steadily trekking north towards the United States for weeks began
to splinter on Saturday, following dashed hopes that they would
be transported via bus to Mexico City.

Though the Trump administration has been brainstorming ways to
crack down on border security and pressure Mexico to keep the
migrants from progressing further, the caravan has largely
persisted, though its numbers have dwindled in recent days and
the dispute over the buses caused them to separate.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump held a bizarre, rambling press
conference
in which he raged against the caravan and made a
vague promise to bar immigrants from seeking asylum if they cross
the border illegally, though it’s unclear if such an action would
pass legal muster.

Here’s everything we know about the caravan and what could happen
next:

Where is the caravan now and when will it reach the US?


central american migrant caravan us mexico border route map nov 2Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Some of the migrants, downtrodden and exhausted, lashed out at
organizers who had tried and failed to arrange the
transportation, according to the Associated
Press
. Several thousand reached the towns of Juan Rodriguez
Clara and Isla in Veracruz state, while others headed north to
Tierra Blanca, Veracruz.

The group has been averaging between 20 and 30 miles per day thus
far. They are mostly on foot, but have been hitch-hiking rides or
piling into the backs of pickup trucks when possible.

It’s unclear when exactly it will reach the US because the
migrants have not said what route they’re planning to take, or
where along the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border they intend to cross,
though they’ve been traveling closer along the Gulf coast in
recent days, indicating they may aim for Texas.

Read moreWhy
the caravan of 4,000 migrants is marching to the US
border

The nearest point to them would be in southeastern Texas, more
than 700 miles away, but it’s also possible the caravan could try
to reach the San Diego, California, area more than 2,000 miles
away, where a similar caravan ended up last spring.

Several other caravans have
also sprung up in weeks, though they’re smaller and further
behind than the main caravan.

How is the Trump administration trying to stop
it?


donald trump
President
Donald Trump talks about immigration and gives an update on
border security from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in
Washington, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.

Associated Press/Susan Walsh

The Trump administration has been weighing a number of actions in
recent weeks, and recently authorized a military deployment of more
than 7,000 troops to the US-Mexico border.

Read more: Trump is sending thousands of
troops to the border with Mexico — here’s everything we know so
far

Trump also announced Thursday
he intends to dramatically limit the ways immigrants can seek
asylum in the United States, and will seek to curb their ability
to receive asylum if they request it after entering the country
illegally, rather than at a legal port of entry.

He said his administration is finalizing an executive order for
“sometime next week” about the asylum changes, though he didn’t
offer details.

The
Immigration and Nationality Act currently requires
the
US government to allow immigrants to make asylum requests no
matter how they crossed the border, and it’s unclear what actions
Trump could take to change that.

“Under this plan, the illegal aliens will no longer get a free
pass into this country,” Trump said. “Instead, migrants seeking
asylum will have to present themselves lawfully at a port of
entry.”

Critics immediately seized on the vagueness of Trump’s
announcement, accusing him of stoking anti-immigrant sentiments
ahead of the midterm elections next week and misrepresenting the
asylum system.

What is Mexico doing?


migrant caravan
Central
American migrants, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S.
border, get a ride on trucks, in Donaji, Oaxaca state, Mexico,
Friday, Nov. 2, 2018.

Associated
Press/Marco Ugarte


The Mexican government has dramatically slowed the caravan’s pace
in recent days, blocking the migrants’ efforts to arrange mass
transportation to Mexico City via buses.

Mexican authorities have also “nibbled” at the edges of the
caravan, according to the Associated
Press
, detaining 153 migrants in the second caravan during
highway inspections. Authorities have also slowed some in the
main caravan down by forcing migrants off freight trucks or
overloaded pickup trucks

Though the government also deployed hundreds of federal police
officers to Mexico’s border with Guatemala, the caravans have
pressed forward regardless.

What happens if it reaches the US border?


migrant caravan
Central
American migrants, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S.
border, ask for a ride as they hitch hike in Donaji, Oaxaca
state, Mexico, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018.

Associated Press/Marco Ugarte

This is still unclear because details like their exact
destination, pace, and numbers are still up in the air.

Part of the confusion also stems from a lack of clarity around
how the migrants intend to cross the border. There are a few
options for them, and each presents its own set of challenges:

  • The migrants could choose to cross illegally and remain
    undetected, though a large group of migrants would be hard for
    Border Patrol agents to miss.
  • They could follow the example of the caravan last spring, whose
    members legally presented themselves at a port of entry and
    requested asylum. This may present problems for those migrants
    who fled Central American countries for reasons like poverty
    and lack of job opportunities; under US law, those are not
    valid reasons to base an asylum claim on.
  • They could try a mix of both tactics, crossing the border
    illegally, but immediately requesting asylum from US authorities
    once they’re caught. They are legally entitled to make an asylum
    claim no matter how they cross the border, but Trump said
    Thursday he intended to bar migrants from requesting asylum if
    they cross illegally.

Another unknown is what role the military will eventually play if
the caravan reaches the US border. Troops are forbidden under the
Posse Comitatus Act from
enforcing domestic law, and therefore cannot directly detain or
deport immigrants.

Instead, the troops are expected to play a support role for
Border Patrol agents, though the amount of support they’ll need
may depend on how many migrants actually reach the border.

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