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Migrant caravan leader says 15,000 asylum seekers could reach US border


The radical activist leading the latest massive caravan of migrants from Mexico to the United States has already been sentenced to 40 years in prison and has already led tens of thousands of asylum seekers to the border.

Luis Garcia Villagran, a self-described evangelical Christian from Mexico, was once again at the forefront of a mass migration this week, leading an estimated 8,000 migrants on a Christmas Eve march across the Mexico to a US border already in crisis – and predicting the number of asylum seekers could easily double to 15,000 along the way.

“We are trying to help the least protected people, especially migrant women and children,” the media leader told the Daily Caller in an interview in July 2022. “We simply apply what is in the law. »

Villagran, who heads the Center for Human Dignity, boasted at the time that he had guided 40,000 migrants to the border since September 2021 – a figure that has multiplied since then and is expected to rise further in the weeks and months to come. come.

The organizer told the outlet that he was not funded or assisted by external organizations – and was motivated by his faith and belief in the right of migrants to escape from their impoverished backgrounds.

Migrant activist Luis Garcia Villagran was imprisoned for 12 years by the Mexican government. Angel Chevrestt

Villagran was previously arrested in the Mexican state of Chiapas in 1997 on kidnapping and conspiracy charges, allegations he denied. He was convicted by a judge and sentenced to 40 years in prison, but working with several human rights groups, he appealed and was finally released in 2010.

The activist, who leads his group with his wife, Martha Martinez de la Fuente, said he was tortured while in detention — and that those earlier struggles also fueled his mission.

The activist said he was “stigmatized as dangerous, and they took me to maximum security prisons until (the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) demanded my freedom.”

Villagran suffered a detached retina while in solitary confinement and claims the condition was left untreated, leading to the loss of sight in one eye.

Villagran led tens of thousands of migrants to the U.S. southern border. AFP via Getty Images

“The damage was repaired, and that’s where the Center for Human Dignity was born,” he said.

A 2021 profile in Mexico Daily described Villagran and fellow organizer Irineo Mujica as savvy media tacticians trying to manage perceptions of the migrant movement in addition to the thousands of people in their care.

“García is more of a pastor than a protester: thoughtful, eloquent, calm,” the outlet wrote. “Both understand the power of public opinion, have a talent for politics and an eye for the camera.”

Villagran leads 8,000 migrants from Mexico to the US border. REUTERS

As for his caravan for the Christmas period, “Today we are the poorest of the poorest of those at the highest level of need, those of us who have no money to pay visas or polleros,” Villagrán said, referring to people smugglers. .

Villagran has sharply criticized U.S. immigration policy in the past, calling it “domineering” and driven by a desire to “impose.”

There were approximately 2 million migrant encounters at the U.S. southern border in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

Villagran said the caravan could reach 15,000 people. REUTERS

Nearly a quarter of a million migrants passed through the perimeter in November alone – a new record for the month and the third highest total in history.

“We will not be stopped, we will continue walking,” Villagran promised this weekend, according to a Reuters report.

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