US President Donald Trump has pointed to a massive caravan of migrants trekking north through Mexico as a major issue in the upcoming midterm elections.
But when Election Day rolls around, on November 6, the caravan could still be somewhere in the middle of Mexico, depending on the group’s current location, how fast it’s been traveling and how long it’s taken other groups of migrants to cross the country.
On Tuesday, the caravan of thousands of people was in Huixtla, Mexico, about 50 miles from the Mexico-Guatemala border, where many of the caravan’s members skirted authorities and crossed in rafts.
It’s still too soon to know exactly where along the vast US-Mexico border the bulk of this caravan will travel.
The group formed in Honduras over a week ago and only crossed into Mexico on Friday.
They may not be the only ones headed north: a US Department of Homeland Security official confirmed to CNN they are tracking another migrant caravan, as NBC first reported.
Members of the group that formed in Honduras are charting their movement daily.
Organizers have told CNN they still don’t know exactly which route they’ll take. Much depends on the Mexican government and what routes the caravan is allowed to travel, whether its members are detained or held in certain areas and whether the group is provided with buses to speed their journey.
There’s a possibility some members will split off and try to make their own way to the US-Mexico border. Others have decided to stay in Mexico — or return to their home countries.
Mexican immigration authorities have already begun processing asylum requests for 2,727 Central Americans who arrived with the group, according to a joint statement released Tuesday by the Foreign Ministry and Interior Secretary Office.
Mexican immigration officials also provided assistance to 495 Honduran nationals, who voluntarily agreed to return to their home country, the statement said.
The safest route would take them to Tijuana, across the US border from San Diego. A large caravan that crossed Mexico in the spring — and also drew ire from President Trump — took more than 30 days to reach Tijuana from Tapachula, Mexico — a city this caravan departed on Monday.
Right now the closest border crossing to this caravan would be between Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas, about 1,111 miles away from the group’s current location. But heading that way is considered a more dangerous route.
To date, the caravan has traveled about 20 miles a day, largely on foot. If it continues at that rate, reaching Tijuana could take months, and reaching Matamoros could take weeks.
The Mexican government estimates 4,500 people are still part of the caravan. The group’s organizers and international aid groups, including UNHCR, say more than 7,000 people are still headed north.
Representatives from Amnesty International will travel to the southern Mexican state of Chiapas from October 23-26 to observe the migrant caravan’s journey and the response of Mexican authorities, the watchdog said in a statement Tuesday.