President Donald Trump will have few options to deal with the thousands of migrants from Central American countries - along with countries in the Middle East, Asia, and elsewhere - if the caravan now in southern Mexico reaches and crosses the US border.
Their trek has drawn the ire of US President Donald Trump, who has used the migrant caravan to fire up support for his Republican party in November 6 congressional elections.
The migrants in the sprawling caravan once estimated by the United Nations to number more than 7,000 are hoping to make it to the United States.
Mexico's government said in a statement on Tuesday that it had received 1,699 requests for refugee status, including children.
The caravan swelled dramatically soon after crossing the Mexican border on October 19, but sickness, fear and police harassment have whittled down its numbers. Religious groups and companies donated clothes, and local authorities provided vaccines, food and drink. They say loopholes in laws have allowed for a worsening border crisis where the vast majority of people coming illegally to the USA can not be easily returned home. "So this is an opportunity to improve my family's life", said Elsa Romero, a Guatemalan mother of four in Huixtla. Americans are generous. We take in more immigrants than any other country in the world.
Trump jumped in to say he's spoken with the border patrol and they've intercepted "many people from the Middle East" and even ISIS at the border.
Additionally, the U.S. is negotiating with Mexico about whether migrants from the caravan could be deported there, regardless of their country of origin.
Other caravans are expected to set out from Central America in coming days, encouraged by reports that it is a safer way for migrants to undertake the perilous journey north.
It was the latest effort to thrust immigration politics into the national conversation in the closing weeks of the congressional elections. He's expressed outrage about the group of several thousand migrants, which is slowly making its way north from Mexico's border with Guatemala, and said in a tweet on Monday that the caravan included "unknown Middle Easterners". The official was not authorized to speak publicly because the details had not yet been finalized and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Although Trump's language in recent days has suggested the military might be directly involved in preventing the migrants from entering the United States, one official said the troops would engage only in logistics and infrastructure services, like setting up tents, and not law enforcement activities. "We pay hundreds of millions of dollars to all of these countries and they don't come through for us", said the President.
President Donald Trump: "There's no proof of anything".
Neither Haley nor Pence provided evidence.
The news seems to deliver on President Trump's repeated warnings that he would deploy the military to the border in some capacity, if Mexican authorities did not do enough to halt the caravan's advance.
The caravan is resting today out of respect for a Honduran migrant who fell from a vehicle yesterday and died. They were brought to a room inside an immigration office that eventually filled with more than 30 migrants.
Even though the goal is to reach the USA border, she said: "We only want to work and if a job turns up in Mexico, I would do it".
UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told VOA that its staffers also are safeguarding migrants' rights.