Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A group of Central American migrants had grown to contain nearly 5,000 people as they moved north across the Mexico-Guatemala border Sunday.
One of the group's organizers, Rodrigo Aveja, told the Washington Post he believes there are "at least 5,600 now, and we expect more to join us" as the group reached nearly double the size of the caravan that moved through Central America and Mexico in the spring.
The caravan is made up mostly of people from Honduras who sought to escape poverty and violence by seeking refuge and work opportunities in Mexico or the United States.
Most members of the caravan illegally crossed the border into Mexico by raft as Mexican authorities watched them arrive and mostly allowed them to proceed to Ciudad Hidalgo's central plaza.
Police also set up two checkpoints where they appeared to block migrants as a senior police officer said they intended to "enforce our country's laws." Other police officers said they would offer crossing migrants the opportunity to secure legal paperwork in a local shelter but wouldn't detain them if they refused.
Mexican authorities had previously outlined they planned to allow anyone with a valid visa to enter and move freely, while anyone who enters the country through "an irregular manner" would be rescued and subject to an administrative procedure and, where appropriate, will be returned to their country of origin in a safe and orderly manner.
They added those who seek to be recognized as a refugee or as a beneficiary of "complementary protection measures" would be required to do so individually and be held "at a migratory station" for as many as 45 business days.
A statement from the Mexican government and the National Migration Institute said about 640 migrants requested asylum in Mexico and authorities had given "priority attention to 164 women, 104 children and elders."
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that the government was working to prevent the caravan from entering the country, adding it was a "disgrace to the Democrat Party" and calling for changes in U.S. immigration laws.
"Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Souther Border. People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first, and if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away. The courts are asking the U.S. to do things that are not doable!" Trump wrote.