Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

How large is the migrant caravan? Estimates vary
Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke October 29, 2018

Thousands of Central American refugees are fleeing their homes on foot in hopes of resettling in the United States. But, how many thousand, exactly? According to conservative website Chicks on the Right, the group has grown to 14,000.

"You know about the first migrant caravan that totally overwhelmed authorities in Guatemala and Mexico?" an Oct. 24 article on the site says. "Remember how it started with 1,500-2,000 people? Then it grew to 4,000? Then 7,000? Here’s a disturbing update: It has DOUBLED."

This story was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

There’s no census of the number migrants, and no consensus, either. While one source reported that more than 14,000 Hondurans were on the move, most estimates put that number around about 5,000 to 7,000. And it seems that the caravan may have stopped growing as fatigued migrants stop their march north.  

We don’t have enough information to issue a rating on this claim, so we’ll present the various estimates and let readers come to their own conclusion.

Miriam Weaver, the co-founder of Chicks on the Right, told PolitiFact in an email that its number cited  a story published on the Washington Times’ website on Oct. 22.

The Washington Times, meanwhile, cites Mexican newspaper El Universal as its source for the 14,000 figure. Also on Oct. 22, that paper reported that more than 14,000 Hondurans were trying to reach the U.S.-Mexico border, according to municipal authorities, a regional diocese and the National Migration Institute.

Other publications echoed the estimate, including Newsweek and Vanity Fair.

But other estimates have varied widely. Here’s a sampling of the numbers:

• On Oct. 22, one of the caravan’s organizers told CNN that 7,500 people are now participating, according to the news organization. Though the United Nations estimated that day that about 7,200 people are walking north, the Mexican government later said the group had dropped to 4,500 people as others returned home or stayed behind to seek asylum, according to USA Today.

• On Oct. 23, The Washington Post reported the number of migrants was more than 5,000.

• On Oct. 24, the Mexican government said the number of people moving through Mexico numbered "about 3,630."

• On Oct. 25, USA Today reported that the caravan has grown to include 10,000 people, according to Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a group providing humanitarian assistance to the migrants. Also that day, the Associated Press reported "an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 migrants" walked into a municipality that was ready to shelter them.

• On Oct. 28, the AP again reported an estimate of 4,000 migrants, plus another 200 to 300 Salvadorans who’d started their own trek, according to the AP and Washington Post.

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Our Sources

Chicks on the Right, "The migrant caravan swells to 14,000," Oct. 24, 2018


Email correspondence with Miriam Weaver, Chicks on the Right co-founder, Oct. 24, 2018


The Washington Times, "Mexican news says caravans grow to 14,000 people," Oct. 22, 2018


El Universal, "14,000 Hondurans are part of the migrant caravan," Oct. 22, 2018


Newsweek, "Migrant caravan member dies after falling off truck as Donald Trump warns of ‘national emergency,’" Oct. 22, 2018


Vanity Fair, "How Trump’s dark genius is rolling back the blue wave," Oct. 24, 2018


Daily Mail, "Now Mexicans are being mean to the caravan: 1,200 drop out over sickness, fear and police harassment as Mattis prepares to order 800 troops to fortify the border," Oct. 25, 2018


The Washington Post, "How the migrant caravan became so big and why it’s continuing to grow," Oct. 23, 2018


The Associated Press, "Over 7,000-strong, the migrant caravan headed for the US pushes on," Oct. 23, 2018


CNN, "Migrant caravan presses north toward US border," Oct. 24, 2018


USA Today, "Central American migrants traveling in caravan grows to 10,000, support group says," Oct. 25, 2018


Mexican government website, "Update on the attention given Mexican authorities to Honduran migrants," Oct. 24, 2018


The Associated Press, "Mexican towns rally for migrants, who try to be good guests," Oct. 25, 2018


Vox, "The caravan is still weeks from the US border — and it’s already shrinking," Oct. 25, 2018


The Associated Press, Migrant caravan rests; second group seeks entry into Mexico, Oct. 28, 2018


Washington Post, A new migrant caravan from El Salvador is making its way north, Oct. 28, 2018

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

How large is the migrant caravan? Estimates vary