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1 Year Since 1st Migrant Caravan Seen Travelling To U.S.

People had been migrating from Central America for decades, but October last year was the first time a river of thousands were being seen walking across screens in the U.S. Within days, President Donald Trump threatened to close the southwest border if the migrants were allowed to advance.

That first convoy changed the discourse over migration across the region. An estimated 250,000 U.S.-bound migrants have crossed into Mexico, and the country’s migration policy has vacillated in the year since then.

Former President Enrique Peña Nieto deployed officials to stop people arriving on foot with the caravan. When his successor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office Dec. 1, he initially ordered immigration officers to welcome migrants with water and food. But when Trump in May threatened to slap Mexico with import tariffsif the country didn’t reduce the volume of asylum border seekers, Mexican armed military police began confronting migrants.

More than 25,000 members of the Mexico's National Guard have been deployed. And thousands of migrants hoping to legally gain passage into the U.S. are now living in precarious conditions along Mexico’s southern and northern borders.

Ultimately, destitute migrants have become a bargaining chip between for trade negotiations between Mexico and the U.S.

“I think the Mexican government has given too little importance to migration,” said Nájera, who contributed to a report on migration through Mexico. “It didn’t anticipate how important of an issue migration has become.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story's headline has been updated to better reflect the caravan's migration. 

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Jorge Valencia joined KJZZ in August 2016 as the station's first senior field correspondent based in Mexico City. His reporting focuses on the business and economics between Arizona and Mexico.Valencia previously covered the North Carolina statehouse in Raleigh for North Carolina Public Radio. He reported on a controversial law that curtailed protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people, and on voting rights and environmental policy issues. He also reported on the shooting of three Arab-American students, traveling to Turkey's border with Syria to report on a project the students had started to help Syrian refugees.Valencia began his journalism career covering crime for the Roanoke Times of Virginia and in internships with newspapers including the Wall Street Journal. He has been the recipient of multiple journalism awards for his work in radio and in newspapers. Valencia studied journalism at the University of Maryland and grew up in Bogotá, Colombia, and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.