Sun | Mar 24, 2019

New migrant caravan sets out for the US

Published:Wednesday | January 16, 2019 | 12:00 AM
United States-bound migrants walk along the roadside as they leave Cofradia, Honduras, early yesterday.

SAN PEDRO SULA (AP):

Hundreds of Hondurans trekked out of a violent northern city yesterday, part of a new caravan of migrants hoping to reach the United States or Mexico, following in the path of another group last year that US President Donald Trump turned into a hot political issue during the US midterm elections.

The first groups of migrants left San Pedro Sula's bus station Monday night, with many women and children boarding buses bound for the Guatemalan border while others started walking and hitchhiking under a steady rain.

Others departed yesterday morning trying to catch up. Some pushed toddlers in strollers or walked holding older children's hands. More people continued to arrive at the bus station, making it likely the caravan's numbers could grow.

Honduran media reported that the country's authorities had reinforced the border with Guatemala to make sure everyone had proper documentation. Children must carry passports and written parental authorisation to leave the country, and parents could face up to three years in prison if found to be taking a child without the right documents, Security Minister Julian Pacheco was quoted as saying.

 

POLICE PATROLS

 

Jenny Arguello, a migrant rights' activist who was with the caravan, said police patrols were not blocking them but were checking IDs.

The latest caravan comes as Trump has been working to convince the American public that there is a "crisis" at the southern border to justify construction of his long-promised border wall. Trump's demand for billions of dollars to build the wall has resulted in a stand-off with Congress that has forced a partial government shutdown.

"A big new Caravan is heading up to our Southern Border from Honduras. Tell Nancy and Chuck that a drone flying around will not stop them. Only a Wall will work," Trump tweeted Tuesday, referring to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer.

It's not the first time Trump has seized on migrant caravans to make a political point. In the lead-up to last fall's elections, Trump frequently referenced several larger groups that had formed at the time, warning that they posed a national security risk and deploying active-duty troops to the border in anticipation of their arrival. Opponents criticised the move as an abuse of presidential power.