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Migrant caravan arrives at US-Mexican border

Activists leading the caravan said they would help some 200 migrants request asylum in the United States on the ground that they are fleeing violence or repression (AFP Photo/GUILLERMO ARIAS)

Mexicali (Mexico) (AFP) - Around 100 Central American migrants from a caravan that infuriated President Donald Trump arrived Tuesday at the US-Mexican border, where many plan to seek asylum in the United States, according to organizers.

Two busloads of migrants arrived in the border city of Mexicali -- which sits opposite Calexico, California -- and paused for a rest stop before continuing west towards Tijuana, said AFP correspondents traveling with them.

The migrants are part of a caravan of more than 1,000 people that set out from Mexico's southern border on March 25.

Media coverage of the US-bound caravan triggered a flurry of furious tweets from Trump, who ordered thousands of National Guard troops to the US-Mexican border and called on Mexico to stop the migrants.

As the issue exploded into a diplomatic row, organizers of the caravan quietly broke it up.

But around 600 migrants are still traveling more or less together by hopping trains and taking buses. The first two buses will be followed by three more, said organizer Irineo Mujica of the migrant rights group People Without Borders.

"Half of them (the remaining 600) plan to stay in Mexico. We're helping them apply for refugee status here," he told AFP by phone from Hermosillo, about 270 kilometers (165 miles) from the border, where he was accompanying remaining migrants.

Around 200 migrants will seek asylum in the United States, fleeing brutal gang violence or political persecution in their home countries, he said. A handful of them have already been granted US asylum, he told AFP.

Others may try to cross into the US illegally.

"It's hard to say, they don't tell you (they plan to sneak over the border). Some will, but probably not right now. There's too much pressure because of the troops Trump sent to the border," he said.

The caravan is a yearly event held since 2010 around Easter. Activists say its main goal is to raise awareness of the perils migrants face, not cross the border.

Ties between the United States and Mexico have been strained since Trump won the presidency in 2016 on the back of a campaign heavy on anti-Mexican rhetoric and promises to build a wall on the two countries' border and make Mexico pay for it.