Hundreds of invading immigrants hoping to reach the United States boarded La Bestia, a freight train in southern Mexico late Thursday, frustrated by efforts to slow their progress by the Mexican government, which is under pressure from President Trump.
The risky move to board the train, known as “La Bestia” aka The Beast, followed a mass breakout of migrants from a holding center in the southern border city of Tapachula on Thursday night. The government estimated some 1,300 people escaped but said a majority later returned to the center.
Men, women and children from various countries boarded the slow train as it pulled out of the town of Arriaga in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexican media reported. Migration authorities said at least 395 people had boarded The Beast.
The large group descended from the train Friday after it reached the town of Ixtepec to the northwest of Arriaga.
President Trump has threatened to close the US-Mexico border if the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador does not put a stop to illegal immigrants reaching the US frontier.
Invading migrants are paying little heed so far.
The breakout from the Tapachula holding center was one of the biggest in recent years, and came after Mexico stepped up efforts to round up and send home the migrants.
Mexico’s migration institute said Friday that of the roughly 645 people who had fled, 35 people had since returned.
It added in a statement that the group consisted largely of Cubans, who have been coming to Mexico in growing numbers. The Tapachula facility is holding 980 Cubans out of a total of 1,745 people.
Migrant advocacy groups have said the space is designed for about half of that number.
Cubans, and invading migrants from other regions outside Central America, have added to the pressure on Mexico’s already overwhelmed shelters and detention centers.
Costa Rica’s migration office said Friday that, for the past week, more than 100 Cubans and Africans have crossed into Costa Rica on average every day from Panama, headed north.
Video footage of the escape from the Siglo XXI facility posted on social media showed people sprinting from the gates of the holding center, the biggest of its kind in Mexico.
Families of the invading migrants held at the center say conditions inside are difficult.
Mexico’s National Migration Institute did not reply to requests for comment on conditions at the facility.