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Migrant caravan getting smaller as it approaches U.S.

By Clyde Hughes
Migrant caravan getting smaller as it approaches U.S.
Honduran migrants climb onto vehicles in Mexico Monday as they head for the United States. Photo by José Méndez/EPA-EFE

Oct. 24 (UPI) -- The size of a migrant caravan headed for the United States has dwindled in size, Mexican officials said.

The Mexican government said about 7,200 migrants initially traveled with the group. That number has fallen to about 4,500, USA Today reported.

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Mexico's Interior Ministry said part of the shrinking numbers come from about 1,700 staying to apply for asylum in Mexico, and another 495 returned to Honduras.

The Trump administration had urged the Mexican government to stop the caravan, which was mostly comprised of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. President Donald Trump threatened to "shut down" the border with military force if Mexico failed to do so.

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In April, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authorized as many as 4,000 troops to guard the border, pending approval of state governors, the Military Times reported. Mattis also curtailed National Guard participation, preventing them performing law enforcement duties.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a smaller, second wave of Honduran migrants -- about 2,500 -- crossed into Guatemala in recent days.

Francesca Fontanini, a spokeswoman for the Americas region for the United Nations refugee office, said the size of the second group could already be down to a few hundred. They are on their way to the Guatemalan border town of Tecun Uman, which where the first caravan arrived.

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"What we are seeing now is that migrants are leaving in large, massive groups as a way to protect themselves and to protest against the critical conditions that they face in their country, people who are just unable to survive," Karla Rivas, coordinator of the Jesuit Migrant Network charity group in the Honduran city of El Progreso, told the Journal.

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