During the lead-up to the November 6 midterm elections, voters began to hear more and more from President Trump on a peculiar issue — a caravan of migrants, mostly Hondurans, who are determined to trek all the way from Central America to the U.S. border with Mexico. Although Trump’s claims about the caravan have been challenged, they are still the backdrop for his newest radical moves in immigration enforcement: threatening an end to birthright citizenship, restricting where and when immigrants can apply for asylum, and deploying thousands of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The caravan’s extreme stakes and scale have made it easy for naysayers like President Trump to voice skepticism. And conspiracy theorists on the right have taken this skepticism a step further, insisting that the migrants must be being funded and organized by people who oppose Trump.
Is the truth just too simple to believe? Teen Vogue went to Mexico to document a typical day of travel for the migrant caravan, including its logistics, the dangers the travelers face, and the ways they find the strength to carry on. What we found is what’s already been reported: a human rights crisis that has forced even the most vulnerable to undertake a difficult and uncertain journey.
Sunday, November 4
5 a.m., La Isla, Veracruz
“Vámonos gente, c’mon, let’s get going!” an organizer shouts through his megaphone.
Some families have already pushed toward the first of many trucks that will carry them northward. But Chely, 23, (pictured above with her child) is still arranging her baby’s things in a donated stroller outside the community center where the migrants stayed last night. Her friend Jhon bounces the baby, Mayte, in his arms. She smiles, toothless.
“Ever since she was born, she’s dreamt and she’s smiled,” Chely says.
5:30 a.m., leaving La Isla
“Pass me the baby,” says Ricardo, another friend of Chely’s. He takes a final drag of his cigarette, then taps its ash into his hand to draw a cross on Mayte’s forehead.
Mayte is Chely’s fourth child and the only one still in her care. Though Mayte is a fragile 4 months old, Chely says she had to spirit her suddenly from Tegucigalpa one October night after a confrontation with the local head of El 18, a transnational gang also known as El Dieciocho, 18 Street, Calle 18, Barrio 18, or the 18th Street Gang.
Chely alleges she had called in a domestic violence complaint against Mayte’s father, and when a squad arrived to arrest him, it also picked up four armed El 18 members who’d been guarding the neighborhood. By calling the police, Chely had broken the rules, she said the gang leader told her. She claims she was told that unless she left the country within 24 hours, she would be killed.
Chely barely thought twice. With money sent by family in the United States, Chely took a bus through Guatemala and followed the caravan into Mexico.Migrants from the caravan in Mexico. " data-type="image" data-reactid="132">