Light Wave


Caravan of 5,000 undocumented immigrants march toward U.S. border

By CM Chaney · November 1, 2023

In brief…

  • Around 5,000 migrants departed southern Mexico in a caravan heading towards US border
  • Group composed of Central Americans, Venezuelans, Cubans, Haitians frustrated with visa delays
  • Migrants aim to reach and resettle in the US to escape poor economic conditions at home
  • Caravan is largest such movement since June 2022 amid rising border crossings
  • US officials preparing measures to repatriate Venezuelan migrants in particular
A caravan of 5,000 migrants from Central America, Venezuela, Cuba and Haiti departed southern Mexico out of frustration with visa delays and aims to reach the US border despite preparations by the US to repatriate Venezuelans.  Wotancito / Wikimedia

A large migrant caravan of around 5,000 people set out Monday from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, heading north towards the U.S. border.

The group is composed primarily of migrants from Central America, Venezuela, Cuba, and Haiti who had grown frustrated with long visa processing delays in Mexico.

The migrants initiated their journey from the town of Tapachula, near Mexico’s border with Guatemala. This area contains the main immigration processing center where migrants normally wait weeks or months to have their status legalized. Without legal status, they cannot work or travel freely in Mexico.

The march north is said to be the largest since June 2022 when 6,000 migrants departed Tapachula. On Monday, the caravan advanced nearly 9 miles to the town of Alvaro Obregón where they camped overnight. By Tuesday morning, they were back on the road hoping to travel an additional 15 miles that day.

“In Tapachula, nobody helps us,” said Venezuelan migrant Oscar Gutiérrez, who abandoned Venezuela with his family due to poor economic conditions. Like many in the group, he hopes to resettle in the U.S. under the Biden administration.

The mass movement comes as President Biden faces pressure to secure the U.S.-Mexico border against rising numbers of undocumented immigrant arrivals. In September 2022, Customs and Border Protection reported 269,735 migrant encounters along the border, one of the highest monthly totals ever recorded.

“In response to high rates of encounters across the southwest border in September, CBP surged resources and personnel,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy A. Miller last week. The U.S. is preparing measures to repatriate Venezuelan migrants in particular.

Activists helping organize the caravan say it is a means to spur action for stranded migrants. “We are trying to save lives with this kind of action,” said migrant advocate Irineo Mújica. For now, the determined group continues its journey north through Mexico.