Hundreds of Venezuelan migrants leave southern Mexico to travel to U.S. border

TAPACHULA, Mexico, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Hundreds of migrants set off from Mexico’s southern border early on Friday on a northward journey to the U.S.-Mexico border where hundreds of others are stranded following a deal to expel Venezuelan migrants crossing into the United States.

The group of people departed around 4 a.m. from the city of Tapachula, near Mexico’s border with Guatemala, en route to San Pedro Tapanatepec in Mexico’s Oaxaca state, where migrants can acquire permits to cross the country.

A migration official estimated the total number of migrants at 500, mostly Venezuelans, although local media reported the group to be over 1,000.

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Around 200 migrants stayed behind in Tapachula.

Also on Friday, around 300 Venezuelan migrants gathered in the northern Mexican border town of Matamoros, trying to cross the Matamoros-Brownsville bridge into Texas.

Some migrants chained themselves together in protest and painted their hands white in a symbolic gesture of peace.

Washington announced a plan Wednesday to grant humanitarian access to the United States for up to 24,000 Venezuelans who enter the country by air and with a U.S.-based sponsor.

The agreement with Mexico, announced as many Venezuelans were traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border, allows for U.S. authorities to expel Venezuelans caught crossing the border back into Mexico.

The number of Venezuelan migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has spiked this year. Record numbers of migrants from around the world have crossed a dangerous strip of Panamanian jungle known as the Darien Gap in order to reach the United States.

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Reporting by Jose Torres in Tapachula; Additional reporting by Fidel Velazquez in Matamoros; Writing by Brendan O’Boyle; editing by Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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