New caravan of Central American migrants crosses into Mexico

An Honduran migrant heading to the US rests after receiving an identification bracelet from Mexican migration authorities. PHOTO: AFP

TAPACHULA, Mexico (REUTERS) - Hundreds of mostly Honduran migrants entered southern Mexico on Friday (Jan 18), joining around 1,000 other people from Central America who crossed a day earlier and putting to the test Mexico's vows to guarantee the safe and orderly flow of people.

The cohort crossed into Chiapas state before dawn without needing the wrist bands that officials on Thursday gave migrants to wear until they could register with authorities, several migrants and an official told Reuters.

"The road today was open," said Marco Antonio Cortez, 37, a baker from Honduras traveling with his wife and children, ages to and nine.

"They didn't give us bracelets or anything, they just let us pass through Mexico migration."

A migration official at the entry point, who asked not to be named because she was not authorised to speak to media, said that at least 1,000 people crossed from Guatemala into Mexico by around 5am, without needing wrist bands.

Migration officials did not reply to requests for comment on why the wrist bands were not required on Friday.

The migrant group proceeded on foot alongside cars on a highway, accompanied by federal police officers, arriving at a shelter in the city of Tapachula around midday.

Sitting by the side of the road rubbing cream onto his children's feet, 40-year-old Honduran migrant Santos Pineda said he and his family entered Mexico easily, and without having to provide documents or wear any wrist bands.

The family's plan was to press on to the United States, he said.

Mexico's migration institute said in a statement the migrants can stay in temporary shelters in Mexico until they receive humanitarian visas allowing them to remain in the country, or they wait in Guatemala for their document to be ready.

Groups of migrants left El Salvador and Honduras earlier in the week, the latest in a string of caravans of people largely fleeing poverty and violence.

The caravans have inflamed the debate over US immigration policy, with President Donald Trump using the migrants to try to secure backing for his plan to build a wall covering the country's southern border with Mexico.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is pursuing a "humanitarian" approach to the problem, vowing to stem the flow of people by finding jobs for the migrants. In exchange, he wants Trump to help spur economic development in the region.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.