Caravan members flee poverty, corruption at home
A caravan means safety in numbers
They're escaping gang violence
The unmitigated violence and control that gangs such as MS-13 and Barrio 18 orchestrate contribute to some of the world's highest homicide rates in .
Though MS-13 was formed in Los Angeles in the 1960s, its presence grew in Central America in the mid-1990s after the US deported massive rates of undocumented immigrants who had criminal records. It has since become an international organization that wields strict control within Central America.
Gangs are not only forces of violence, but also of unchecked control, often extorting vulnerable citizens including public transportation agents, small businesses, and poor families for exorbitant fees.
These groups, combined with drug cartels and criminal organizations, form an overwhelmingly powerful and deadly system of control.
They're fleeing political corruption
Violence and crime thrive under weak national legislatures and administrations that are built on legacies of corruption, which are further stressed by remarkably low tax revenues.
Deadly internal fighting among the government, citizens, and guerrilla groups persisted in the Northern Triangle until the 1990s and provided a foundation for organized crime.
The Northern Triangle's current governments have been embroiled in political insecurity as recently as June, when protests following the re-election of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández left 32 dead and resulted in no charges for police or military agents.
They're trying to get out of poverty
Irineo Mujica, of the humanitarian aid group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, that two things are responsible for the exodus: "hunger and death."
In Honduras, for example, two-thirds of people live on .50 a day. And the governments collect little taxes from residents, so the availability and quality of necessities like education, healthcare, and security are low.
Many of the people marching in the caravan have children in tow and are trying to give their families a better life in the United States.
A caravan means safety in numbers
A caravan of approximately 5,000 Central American migrants walking to the US start their day departing Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on Sunday.
Migrants traveling alone or in small groups along the thousands-mile long journey face the possibility of abuse and exploitation at the hands of smugglers and criminals who take advantage of particularly vulnerable immigrants, including pregnant women, minors, refugees, and asylum-seekers.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged the risks migrants face, but doubled down on the Trump administration's flat denial that members of the caravan would be admitted at the border.
"We are concerned that these migrants may be victimized by human smugglers or others who would exploit them," Pompeo said in a statement on Sunday evening. "We also are deeply concerned by the violence provoked by some members of the group, as well as the apparent political motivation of some organizers of the caravan."
The caravan has become a key point of political rhetoric, as it dominates American media in the weeks before November's midterm elections.
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