Migrant Caravan Embarks From Honduras, Posing Challenge to Region


MEXICO CITY — Hundreds of Hondurans, many with hopes of reaching the United States, streamed toward the Guatemalan border on Wednesday in the kind of migrant caravan that, in 2018 and 2019, angered President Trump and posed a direct challenge to governments throughout the region.

Traveling by foot and hitchhiking, the vanguard of the new caravan set off from the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula earlier in the week, with others following throughout the day on Wednesday, local media and migrants’ advocates reported.

The migrants met some resistance at the Guatemalan border when Honduran police fired tear gas to repel a group seeking to cross. A spokesman for the Honduran security ministry said the group had tried to leave the country without clearing the proper migration controls, Reuters reported.

President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala, who was sworn into office this week, said Wednesday that his government would honor Central American migration agreements that permitted Hondurans to enter Guatemala as long as they had proper identification.

The caravan was reminiscent of the large-scale mobilizations of mostly Central American migrants that provoked the ire of Mr. Trump, who compelled his regional counterparts to step up their migration enforcement efforts by freezing American aid and threatening tariffs.

Under pressure from the Trump administration, the Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have all signed agreements with the Trump administration that require migrants who pass through one of those countries to first seek asylum there before applying in the United States.

The Guatemala deal is the only one of the three that has been put into effect, and in recent weeks, the American authorities have begun sending Honduran and Salvadoran asylum seekers back to Guatemala to apply for sanctuary there.

Pressure from the Trump administration last year also forced Mexico to tighten its migration enforcement, leading to the deployment of thousands of Mexican security forces to help detain undocumented migrants as they traveled north.

At the United States border, the Trump administration has imposed increasingly restrictive policies, including expanding a program that returns certain migrants to Mexico while their immigration cases play out in American courts. Administration officials hope the tactic further dissuades people from seeking refuge in the United States.

As the latest caravan wends its way across Guatemala, Mexico will likely find itself under renewed pressure from the United States to strengthen its borders further and block the group’s passage across its territory.

Mr. Giammattei, following a meeting on Wednesday with Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said Mexican officials had vowed to restrict the caravan’s movement.

“The Mexican government told us that they won’t let it pass, that they will do everything in their powers to stop it from passing,” the Guatemalan president said, according to Reuters.

A spokesman for Mexico’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Paulina Villegas contributed reporting.


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