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Central American migrants moving in a caravan to the U.S. board buses. Photo: Ulises Ruiz/AFP via Getty Images

Central American migrants have newfound empowerment to organize and flee their home countries in large groups, with instant communication to guide their long journeys.

Why it matters: Those caravans provide the protection of numbers and eliminate many of the dangers and costs associated with hiring smugglers.

  • And they've become a popular and strategically orchestrated method of migration for Central Americans in search of safety or a better life in the U.S. — a phenomenon spurred by social media, the AP reports.

Between the lines: The "caravans" began primarily as protests a few years ago. Very few members of the original caravans actually made it to the U.S. border.

  • But last fall — amid the Trump administration's ongoing immigration crackdown — hundreds of Central Americans actually arrived at the U.S. border.
  • Ever since, smaller "caravans" have been setting off from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
  • Social media is the engine: They are often advertised on Facebook and organized through WhatsApp group chats, the AP reports, where migrants make plans, give advice and communicate with loved ones. It's unclear who — if ever the same people — head up the operation.

A look inside a caravan WhatsApp chat, as reported by the AP:

  • "Group, in Mexico can you find someone to take you to the other side?"
  • "What papers do I need for my kids?"
  • "Remember that in Mexico there are a lot of kidnappings.”
  • "This dude works with the Zetas, a friend of mine from Olancho told me he knows him and that he’s still with them." Sent with a photo of an alleged criminal.
  • "There are no coordinators, that’s what people have to say so there aren’t problems."
  • "Another is leaving April 30, Salvadoran friends."

The bottom line: Social media continues to transform our world — mobilizing anti-government uprisings, a new brand of celebrity, fake news and even effective, new methods of mass migration.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

7 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.