500 Haitians reported walking through Mexico toward U.S.

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MEXICO CITY – About 500 Haitians headed to the US border were ordered off buses by Mexican immigration officials in the northern state of Tamaulipas on Friday, and some tried to continue on foot.

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Immigration agents and National Guard officials stopped buses at a highway checkpoint near the city of San Fernando, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) south of the Texas border, the state government said in a press release.

Mexico has turned back Haitian migrants trying to walk from southern Mexico. But 8,000 to 12,000 people, mainly Haitians, have already crossed the Rio Grande River and gathered under and around a bridge in the small Texas border town of Del Rio. Some of those migrants may have already lived in northern Mexico for some time.

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Migrants who stayed in Tamaulipas told local media that they had boarded about 15 buses in the city of Poza Rica, Veracruz, and were on their way to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, across the border from McAllen, Texas.

Many Haitians have applied for asylum or refugee status in Mexico, but they are not allowed to travel outside the state where they applied. About 19,000 Haitians, many of whom have previously traveled to South America, have applied for asylum or refugee status in Mexico so far this year.

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Migrants include some families with children. State police cars were part of their walk with the migrants to avoid accidents on the highway.

The city of San Fernando is known for the 2010 massacre of 72 migrants by the Zetas drug cartel.

The residents there offered Haitian food.

On Wednesday, another group of Haitians blocked a roadway in Tamaulipas in protest after they said federal officials were trying to detain and deport them.

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