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Migrants head for Mexico

Members of a 3,000-strong U.S.-bound migrant caravan massed in a Guatemalan border town and prepared to begin crossing the muddy Suchiate River to Mexico Friday, in spite of U.S. President Donald Trump's threats of retaliation.

The first members of the group began arriving in Tecun Uman on buses and trucks early Thursday, but the bulk of the caravan sloshed into town on foot in a downpour late in the afternoon and into the evening. Before dawn Friday, the migrants decided to wait a few more hours for stragglers to arrive before heading to the border crossing.

Some planned to walk toward Mexican territory in a formation that put the men along the edges and women and children in the centre. Others prepared to cross the river in rafts, the traditional way migrants enter.

As the sun rose, a military helicopter flew along the Mexican side of river foreshadowing the difficulties they could face. Several busloads of Mexican federal police unloaded from buses with their riot gear at the border crossing in Ciudad Hidalgo.

Jonathan Guzman joined the caravan en route. "It's the third time that I'm trying to cross," said the 22-year-old Salvadoran who dreams of finding a construction job in Los Angeles.

On Thursday, hundreds had walked to the river's edge where they sang the national anthems of Honduras and Guatemala.

A smaller group walked to the border crossing but was blocked by Guatemalan police. They eventually retreated to await the rest of the caravan.

The exhausted travellers, the majority from Honduras, dispersed to the local migrant shelter and parks where volunteers offered them food.

Jonathan Perales, 22, arrived with his wife Heidy and their daughters ages 2 and 4. They'd been travelling since 4 a.m. and got to the border after dark. They paid for bus tickets they could ill afford.

"It was a great sacrifice, but it's all for a better life," he said. "It's not all good. We're wet and we still don't have a place to sleep."

On the Mexican side, the foreign ministry said its government was in constant communication with members of the caravan explaining the migrants' options. It said officials were already assisting some migrants who had crossed and requested refugee status.

Trump has made it clear to Mexico that he is monitoring its response. Early Thursday, he threatened to close the U.S. border if Mexico let the migrants advance. Later, he retweeted a video of Mexican federal police arriving at the Guatemalan border and wrote: "Thank you Mexico, we look forward to working with you!"



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