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Migrants turn down offers of jobs, benefits in Mexico

A U.S.-bound caravan of Central American migrants pressed on through southern Mexico on Oct. 27, in spite of generous Mexican government offers of jobs, welfare benefits, healthcare and education for their children.

“We’re going to the United States. Because that’s our dream,” said 28-year-old Honduran Daniel Leonel Esteves at the head of a 50-person wide column of migrants snaking down a highway into the hills.

Mexico’s outgoing president Enrique Pena Nieto offered a new way for the migrant caravan to stay in Mexico, saying the migrants could remain in the country to work while any with children could send their kids to school.

Mexico’s offer to host the migrants came as U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authorized the use of troops and other military resources at the U.S.-Mexico border to prepare for the caravan’s arrival there.

The Mexican president said on Oct. 26 that migrants wishing to obtain temporary identification documents, jobs, and/or education for their children could do so by registering for asylum in southern Mexico.

“This plan is only for those who comply with Mexican laws, and it’s a first step towards a permanent solution for those who are granted refugee status in Mexico,” Pena Nieto said in a pre-recorded address broadcast on Friday afternoon.

Mexican police in riot gear briefly blocked the migrant caravan as it neared Oaxaca state before dawn, to relay the offer of asylum.

Officials said on Oct. 24, that approximately 1,743 migrants have sought asylum in Mexico while 116 people agreed to be deported.

Thousands of migrants have refused Mexico’s offer, however, pledging to continue north.

“Our goal is not to remain in Mexico,” 58-year-old Oscar Sosa of Honduras told the Associated Press.

“Our goal is to make it to the (U.S). We want passage, that’s all.”