“I have talked to maybe 100 people today,” he said on Saturday, “and maybe 70 percent had credible cases on the surface.” Yet many lack the documents they need to provide evidence.

The migrants often reveal little emotion when recounting the violence they have fled, as if admitting grief could lead to a despair that would paralyze them at the very moment they need to keep pressing ahead.

“They killed my whole family, my father, my mother and my two brothers,” said Jose Miguel Martínez, a rail-thin 18-year-old from El Salvador. He said he had been spared because he was in the military at the time — but never received a police report or death certificate.

Orbelina Meléndez, 36, watched as her husband was shot in front of her in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, and then received death threats. She has no police report. “When you are poor, they do not investigate and it remains unpunished,” she said.

Dr. Allen Keller, the director of the Bellevue/N.Y.U. Program for Survivors of Torture, who has flown to Mexico to meet with caravan members, called the situation “a refugee crisis.”

“These individuals are not here by choice,” he said. “In fact, they believe they have no choice.”

Melissa Guzmán, 33, from Honduras, was one of those who turned up early Saturday to put her name on the interview waiting list. She had joined the caravan with her daughter, Laura, 6, and son, Mynor, 11. Whatever the decision, she said, she wasn’t going back to Honduras.



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