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Migrant caravan heads toward U.S. southern border ahead of Blinken's trip to Mexico

7,500 people are estimated to be part of the massive group, organizers of the migrant caravan told Telemundo on Wednesday.
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A caravan of thousands of migrants continued its dayslong march through Mexico toward the southern U.S. border Wednesday, hours ahead of a scheduled meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

About 7,500 people from 24 different countries were believed to be part of a massive group making its way north Wednesday through the Mexican state of Chiapas on the border of Guatemala, Luis García Villagrán, an organizer of the migrant caravan and activist, told NBC News. He said a group of women, children and sick people was farther ahead and had reached Mapastepec.

Most of the migrants are from Central America, Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti, he said, but some come from as far as Turkey, Iran, Syria and Cameroon.

Not all of the migrants are seeking to enter the U.S., García Villagrán said. Some are hoping for documents to be able to stay in Mexico and find work and humanitarian relief.

The migrants hope to get the attention of and assistance from the Mexican government, García Villagrán said. “The conditions in which the companions, the migrant women and children, are walking is truly deplorable,” he said.

Jonás Sosa, a Venezuelan migrant traveling with the caravan, told Telemundo that the migrants need help. Sosa, who said he left Venezuela two months ago, said he lost his left leg in a car accident and supported himself along the journey on crutches and a prosthetic leg.

He said the people traveling with the caravan are “those of us looking for a new dream, those of us that want to work, those of us who want to move forward in life.”

A large crowd of migrants march along a highway.
Migrants depart from Tapachula, Mexico, on Sunday. Edgar Hernandez Clemente / AP

The migrants spent Christmas night sleeping on scraps of cardboard or plastic, stretched out under awnings, tents or on the bare ground, according to The Associated Press.

“I was used to my Christmas dinner with the family, not spending it in the street as we did yesterday,” Eduviges Arias, a migrant from Venezuela, told the news agency.

The caravan’s journey comes as Blinken, López Obrador, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and White House homeland security advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall meet in Mexico City on Wednesday to discuss “unprecedented irregular migration in the Western Hemisphere and identify ways Mexico and the United States will address border security challenges,” according to a State Department statement.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department on Dec. 20.Roberto Schmidt / AFP via Getty Images

García Villagrán said the meeting was focused “totally on electoral questions.”

“Migrant women and children are being used as bargaining chips,” he said.

Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered a record number of undocumented migrants crossing the border. At the same time, according to three Homeland Security officials, U.S. border facilities had a record number of migrants in custody.

Last Thursday, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., sent a letter to President Joe Biden, blaming him for the border crisis and urging him to act “to stem the record tide of illegal immigration.”

Migrants depart from Tapachula, Mexico.
The caravan of migrants from Central America, Venezuela, Cuba and other countries includes many families with young children. Edgar H. Clemente / AP

Customs and Border Protection told NBC News in a statement Tuesday evening that "migrants attempting to enter without authorization are subject to expulsion under Title 8 authorities."

"We are aware of recent reports of a migrant caravan that has materialized in Southern Mexico, as we do several times per year," the agency said. "These reported caravans generally travel very slowly and often splinter before they make progress moving northbound towards the Southwest Border. Nevertheless, CBP will continue to monitor developments in coordination with our foreign and interagency counterparts as we have with previous movements of migrants."