As the year draws to a close, a colossal migrant caravan surges through Mexico toward the US-Mexico border, marking the largest influx in over a year. Approximately 8,000 asylum seekers, predominantly from Cuba, Haiti, and Honduras, are currently en route, with concerns mounting that this caravan could balloon to a staggering 15,000 people before reaching its destination.

The migrants, driven by aspirations of a better life, embarked on their journey on a Sunday, covering a grueling nine-mile trek from the southern Mexican border city of Tapachula to the town of Alvaro Obregón. Their Christmas Eve was far from traditional, consisting of meager provisions—sandwiches, bottled water, and a solitary banana—distributed by a local church. Come nightfall, they laid down on cardboard or plastic, sheltered beneath makeshift awnings and tents, their determination unwavering.

However, radical migrant rights activist Luis Garcia Villagran, a figure deeply intertwined with the caravan, warns of an imminent expansion in their numbers. Brandishing placards that read “Exodus from poverty,” Villagran boldly proclaims, “We won’t stop— we’ll keep walking.” This declaration sparks anxiety on multiple fronts, particularly among those tasked with maintaining border security.

The United States’ Border Patrol, already under immense strain, faces an unprecedented challenge with the relentless wave of migrants. Since October alone, they have encountered more than 730,000 asylum seekers at the southern border. This astronomical figure surpasses the entire population of Denver, the capital of Colorado. Furthermore, December is on track to set a new record for monthly migrant encounters, with as many as 10,000 apprehensions daily this month, totaling over 200,000 encounters.

In response to the surging numbers, the US Customs and Border Patrol made the difficult decision to halt railway operations at international crossings into Texas, a move aimed at curtailing the relentless migration. In a statement, they acknowledged the need to deploy all available resources to manage the influx, exacerbated by human smugglers disseminating false information to exploit vulnerable individuals.

Yet, despite their best efforts, Border Patrol agents find themselves outnumbered on a staggering scale, with migrants outnumbering agents 200 to 1 at one Texas crossing alone. The National Border Patrol Council underscores the urgency of the situation, asserting that “agents are more than willing to sacrifice holidays to protect our fellow Americans.” They also emphasize the need for sound policies to regain control of the border.

As federal officials prepare to meet with their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City to address the mounting crisis, the Mexican government has already expressed its willingness to assist in curbing the flow of migrants. President Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador share concerns about the “dramatic” increase, and discussions will undoubtedly center around finding effective solutions to this burgeoning challenge.

President López Obrador has also urged the Biden administration to reconsider restrictive sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela, both of which account for a significant portion of the migrants encountered at the border. Additionally, he advocates for increased financial support to struggling Latin American countries, aiming to provide better economic opportunities and thereby reduce the incentive for migration.

As we approach the end of the year, the situation at the US-Mexico border remains increasingly complex, with no immediate solutions in sight. The challenges faced by both the migrants and the United States continue to evolve, setting the stage for a contentious debate about border security and immigration policies in the days ahead.