Honduras caravan builds for new march across Mexico to the USA
Another migrant caravan is forming in Honduras, with plans to set out next week on a journey that will once again test the immigration policies of Mexico and the United States.
In much the way last year's Central American caravan originated, a flier is circulating on Honduran social media.
"We're looking for refuge," it says. "In Honduras, we are being killed." It advertises a 5am departure on Tuesday, January 15 from the northern city of San Pedro Sula.
The Mexican government says it is preparing for the group's arrival.
"We have information that a new caravan is forming to enter our country in mid-January," Olga Sánchez Cordero, the interior minister, said last Monday. "We are already taking the necessary steps to ensure the caravan enters in a safe and orderly way."
When the previous caravan reached Mexico in October, Mexican authorities closed one of the main border crossings but allowed thousands of migrants to swim across the river separating the country from Guatemala. The migrants then continued north through Mexico, most of them traveling without documents.
Ms Sánchez Cordero said this time the government will place guards at 370 illegal crossing points and the border will be "controlled to prevent the entry of undocumented people". But she suggested members of the caravan could be allowed into the country legally if they apply for visas.
"We don't know how many people this will be, but it's a lot," said Walter Coello, a taxi driver from Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, who helped organise the last caravan and is playing a similar role again.
"The goal is to give them a chance to work and have a better life, be it in Mexico or the United States."
Last year's group, with about 7,000 people, was dwarfed by the roughly 400,000 people who were apprehended at the US border in 2018, as well as the more than 100,000 who applied for asylum in that period. But it became a major focus for President Donald Trump, who attempted to use the spectre of an invading caravan to rally his supporters.
Mr Trump deployed similar rhetoric about the new group.
"There is another major caravan forming right now in Honduras, and so far we're trying to break it up, and so far it's bigger than anything we've ever seen, and a drone isn't going to stop it, and a sensor isn't going to stop it, but you know what's going to stop it in its tracks?" he said. "A nice, powerful wall." (© The Washington Post)