EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The governor of Chihuahua says she’s holding up a 1,200- to 1,500-strong migrant caravan in the southern part of the state to ensure the health and safety of Central and South Americans making their way to the U.S. border.

Chihuahua Gov. Maru Campos is also asking the Mexican government to “review the immigration status” of the migrants, as required by law.

“Because of the complex conditions within the caravan of 1,200 to 1,500 migrants from Honduras and Venezuela that entered the state, the state government will intervene in support of the (municipal) government of Jimenez,” the governor said in a statement late Thursday. “So as to give them the attention they require, especially to the pregnant women, the (group) will be retained in Jimenez where both levels of government will provide various services.”

The caravan crossed the Durango-Chihuahua border on foot Thursday and local authorities quickly routed the migrants to a gym and other government facilities in the city of Jimenez, state officials confirmed.

During a Thursday visit to Juarez, Campos told reporters she was concerned about members of the Mexican National Guard apparently escorting the caravan as it entered her state.

In posts on social media, Juan Carlos Loera, a federal government representative in Chihuahua, denied such reports.

“It’s a shame that narrow minds fall in xenophobic rhetoric more hurtful than the anguish they (the migrants) are already living, and that divides us even though we all inhabit the same world,” Loera posted. “The federal government has demonstrated with strong actions the humanitarian assistance to our migrant brothers that arrive at our borders.”

A municipal employee distributes food to migrants arriving at a gym in Jimenez, Mexico. The migrants are part of a caravan headed to the U.S. border that crossed into the state of Chihuahua on Thursday. (Courtesy City of Jimenez)

In an interview with El Heraldo de Chihuahua, Jimenez Mayor Marco Chavez said some of the migrants told him they had been recently released by smugglers who held them for five days in the town of El Vergel, Durango.

Chavez told the newspaper authorities in Durango told him the migrants ages 4 and up were forced to pay their captors — civilians who initially posed as Mexican police officers — 5,000 pesos ($260) for their release.

El Heraldo on Friday reported that another migrant caravan of at least 1,000 people is approaching Chihuahua even as authorities haggle about what to do with the first group.