More than 3,000 people from Honduras and other Central American countries are marching toward the U.S.-Mexico border, hoping to make it into the United States in what organizers have dubbed the “March of the Migrant.”
The mass throng on Monday crossed into Guatemala after a standoff with police in riot gear and amid a warning from the Trump administration that they should not attempt to enter the United States illegally. A group of 1,300 left from Honduras on Saturday but has more than doubled in size along the march.
“Rows of Guatemalan police in black uniforms, some wearing helmets and shields, initially blocked migrants from reaching a customs booth, Reuters images showed. It was not clear how long the standoff lasted, but the group was ultimately able to cross, said march organizer Bartolo Fuentes, a former Honduran lawmaker,” Reuters reported.
A police official on site said all Central Americans could pass freely through the region as long as they complied with migration control.
“We’re going to drop in on Donald Trump. He has to take us in,” said Andrea Fernandez, 24, who left Honduras with a newborn baby, a 5-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son because she said she could not find work and feared for their safety.
But U.S. officials — and President Trump — warned the marchers.
“We are seriously concerned about the caravan of migrants traveling north from Honduras, with false promises of entering the United States by those who seek to exploit their compatriots,” the U.S. Embassy in Honduras said in a statement on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, Trump threatened to cut off aid to Honduras if they allow the march to continue.
“The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!” Trump said on Twitter.
With the U.S. midterm elections less than three weeks away, the “spontaneous” march is no doubt political. The intent is to paint Trump and Republicans as heartless and cold when it comes to immigrants seeking asylum.
The same sort of march occurred in April, when some 1,500 people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador marched to the U.S. border. “Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S. They laugh at our dumb immigration laws. They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!” Trump tweeted at the time.
He has since repealed NAFTA — so Honduras might want to heed Trump’s warning.