New mother on migrant caravan hopes Trump's heart softens

TIJUANA, Mexico, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Erly Marcial of Honduras joined the United States-bound migrant caravan with her family even though the 21-year-old was nearly eight months pregnant. She gave birth to a healthy baby on the grueling trail and is now hoping for another miracle.

She and her family are stuck in Tijuana, Mexico, at the doorstep of the United States, with President Donald Trump vowing to keep the migrants out.

"If only God would soften his heart," she said of Trump. "Because he has a heart of flesh and blood, not of stone."

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New mother's journey in the migrant caravan
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New mother's journey in the migrant caravan

Newborn Alvin Reyes sleeps next to his mother Honduran migrant Erly Marcial, 21, at a hospital in Puebla, Mexico, November 13, 2018.

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Honduran migrant Maria Reyes, 6, wakes up next to her father Alvin Reyes and mother Erly Marcial, who is eight months pregnant, and her brother David, 2, after they spent the night with fellow migrants in Tapanatepec, Mexico, November 6, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Honduran migrant Alvin Reyes, 39, touches his newborn son Alvin, next to his wife Erly Marcial, 21, at a hospital in Puebla, Mexico, November 13, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Honduran migrant Erly Marcial, 21, organises her belongings next to her husband Alvin Reyes, 39, and their sons David, 2, and newborn Alvin, in the dormitory of a church where they are staying in Tijuana, Mexico, December 4, 2018. =

'(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Eight months pregnant Honduran migrant Erly Marcial, 21, takes a bath in the river with her son David, 2, in Tapanatepec, Mexico, November 6, 2018.

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Eight months pregnant Honduran migrant Erly Marcial, 21, lies on cardboard while she stays with her family and fellow migrants in Tapanatepec, Mexico, November 6, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Honduran migrant Erly Marcial, 21, carries her newborn son Alvin with her children, Maria, 6, and David, 2, while her husband Alvin Reyes buys bus tickets to Mexico City, at a bus station in Puebla, Mexico, November 13, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Honduran migrants Erly Marcial, 21, and Alvin Reyes, 39, receive the Mexican birth certificate for their newborn son Alvin, in Puebla, Mexico, November 13, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Eight months pregnant Honduran migrant Erly Marcial, 21, plays with her daughter Maria, 6, in the river in Tapanatepec, Mexico, November 6, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Honduran migrant Alvin Reyes, 39, talks with doctors about the condition of his wife Erly Marcial, 21, who is eight months pregnant, at a hospital in Puebla, Mexico, November 12, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Eight months pregnant Honduran migrant Erly Marcial, 21, takes a bath in the river next to her son David, 2, while they stay with fellow migrants in Tapanatepec, Mexico, November 6, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Eight months pregnant Honduran migrant Erly Marcial, 21, is carried to a hospital on a stretcher in Puebla, Mexico, November 11, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Eight months pregnant Honduran migrant Erly Marcial, 21, and her husband Alvin Reyes, 39, board a truck as they hitch a ride towards the U.S., in Santo Domingo Ingenio, Mexico, November 8, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Eight months pregnant Honduran migrant Erly Marcial, 21, rests with fellow migrants on the road that links Tapanatepec and Santo Domingo Ingenio, near Tapanatepec, Mexico, November 7, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Eight months pregnant Honduran migrant Erly Marcial, 21, walks with her husband Alvin Reyes, 39, carrying their children David, 2, and Maria, 6, on the road that links Tapanatepec and Santo Domingo Ingenio, near Tapanatepec, Mexico, November 7, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Honduran migrant Alvin Reyes, 39, visits his wife Erly Marcial, 21, who is eight months pregnant, at a hospital in Puebla, Mexico, November 12, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Honduran migrant Alvin Reyes, 39, embraces his son David, 2, next to his daughter Maria, 6, in front of the police station in Pijijiapan, Mexico, November 4, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

A man jogs next to the border wall between Mexico and the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, December 10, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

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Thanks to the generosity of strangers in her path, plus the intervention of Mexican healthcare workers and the Honduran consulate in Mexico City, Marcial completed the more than 2,800-mile journey over several weeks, sometimes walking in rubber sandals for hours with a bulging belly.

She and her family have started on the long path to seeking asylum but it could be months before they get their first interview with U.S. officials.

The United States has granted only 13.8 percent of Honduran asylum claims in the latest fiscal year compared to 20.9 percent for asylum seekers worldwide, according to Justice Department data.

If denied, Marcial and her husband, Alvin Reyes, 39, said they would try to build a life in Mexico and possibly in Tijuana, where they are living in a spartan church dormitory whose bunk beds are luxurious compared to the camps where thousands of other migrants from the caravan sleep in tents on hard ground.

Reyes could not make a living as a cobbler in the town of Sabá in Honduras, so they decided to join the caravan, usually lagging behind while pushing a baby carriage with their 2-year-old son David and their 6-year-old daughter María.

Alvin Jr. was born with a shock of dark hair in a hospital in Puebla, Mexico, on Nov. 12, about six weeks premature.

If they have any asylum claim, it would be related to violence in their hometown, where a shootout at the cantina near their house peppered their walls with bullet holes and killed a man whose body lay in a pool of blood at their doorstep, they said.

Marcial and Reyes said they were not home at the time, but were shaken and further motivated to abandon Honduras.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Carlos Garcia Editing by Bill Rigby)

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