New caravan of Honduran migrants makes first border crossing

Honduran migrants wait to enter Guatemala at the border crossing in Agua Caliente, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. The latest caravan of Honduran migrants hoping to reach the U.S. has crossed peacefully into Guatemala, under the watchful eyes of about 200 Guatemalan police and soldiers. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

AGUA CALIENTE, Guatemala (AP) — The latest caravan of Honduran migrants hoping to reach the U.S. has crossed peacefully into Guatemala, under the watchful eyes of about 200 Guatemalan police and soldiers.

About 500 people, including dozens of children, lined up to show their documents to a first line of unarmed security personnel at the Agua Caliente border crossing Tuesday night. Riot police formed a second line to contain any possible disturbance.

Edilberto Hernandez, a former police officer, stood with his wife and four children to cross into Guatemala. After losing his job, he could find only low-paid construction work, and he decided to travel with his whole family to the United States.

“We are going out of necessity, because of the poverty,” Hernandez said.

The fate that awaits them at the Mexico-U.S. border is uncertain. The previous caravans that were seized upon last year by U.S. President Donald Trump in the run-up to the 2018 midterm election have quietly dwindled, with many having gone home to Central America or put down roots in Mexico.

Despite the hard-line immigration rhetoric by the Trump administration, many others — nearly half, according to U.S. Border Patrol arrest records — have sought to enter the U.S. illegally.

Soldiers stand guard as Honduran migrants enters Guatemala, at the border crossing in Agua Caliente, Guatemala, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

About 6,000 Central Americans reached Tijuana in November amid conflict on both sides of the border over their presence in this Mexican city across from San Diego. As of Monday, fewer than 700 migrants remained at a former outdoor concert venue in Tijuana that the Mexican government set up as a shelter to house the immigrants.

Where have they all gone?

The U.S. Border Patrol has made about 2,600 caravan-related arrests in its San Diego sector, spokesman Theron Francisco said, indicating that nearly half have crossed into the U.S. illegally. Families are typically released with a notice to appear in immigration court.

Mexican officials say about 1,300 caravan members have returned to Central America. Mexico has issued humanitarian visas to about 2,900 others, many of whom are now working legally there with visas.

Francis Lopez is among the migrants who have stayed in Mexico. The former clothing factory worker said he and his wife made a snap decision to leave their home in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula when the caravan left in October. He had hoped to join a relative in Florida but is having second thoughts about seeking asylum after an American attorney told him he had a weak case and may be detained until a judge orders him deported.

“It’s a loss of time, a loss of time that you can never recover,” Lopez said.

Javier Diaz of El Salvador, who is working as a taxi driver in Tijuana on a visa, said the caravan offered strength in numbers — enough safety to avoid paying a smuggler at least $8,000 to reach the United States.

Diaz, a 44-year-old former construction worker who fled for economic reasons and to escape violence, said he had hoped to reach the United States to make enough money to support his wife and five children in El Salvador but Mexico was better than going home.

“If Mexico deports me today, I will be in Mexico again tomorrow,” Diaz said Monday amid sporadic rain at the shelter. “If I can go to the United States, better.”

The diminished presence of the migrants in Tijuana came as hundreds of Hondurans left the violent city of San Pedro Sula this week in a new caravan hoping to reach the United States or Mexico.

News of this latest trek north came 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 standoff 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.

Caravans have taken place over the years though on a smaller scale, organized to draw attention to migrants’ rights and usually not reaching the border. The ones that formed last year gained attention for their larger numbers and after Trump began seizing on them for political purposes.

A man holds on to the border wall along the beach, in Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

In the lead-up to last fall’s elections, Trump frequently referenced the caravans, warning that they posed a national security risk and deploying active-duty troops to the border in anticipation of their arrival. Opponents criticized the move as an abuse of presidential power.

The latest caravan started out Monday night from Honduras with many women and children boarding buses bound for the Guatemalan border. Others started walking and hitchhiking under a steady rain.

More followed Tuesday morning trying to catch up. Some pushed toddlers in strollers or walked holding older children’s hands.

Honduran media reported that the country’s authorities had reinforced the border with Guatemala to make sure everyone had proper documents. Children must carry passports and written parental authorization 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.

Migrants fleeing Central America’s Northern Triangle region comprising Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala routinely cite poverty and rampant gang violence as their motivation for leaving.

Bartolo Fuentes, a migrant advocate accompanying the new caravan, said Tuesday that migration from Honduras will not stop until those chronic problems are resolved.

“People leave every day,” he said. “Every day 300, 400 people go. The caravan has been like a constant river of people to Mexico, to the United States.”

Among them is Honduran Angel Eduardo Cubas, who now sits in limbo in Tijuana, hoping to find work in Mexico.

The former school security guard left his family behind, hoping to reach Florida for a job that would allow him to send money home.

To others embarking on the journey, his advice was to “keep the faith and don’t lose heart.”

Cubas said he could tell others that the trip isn’t worth it, because it hasn’t turned out well for him, but they would come anyway.

“We don’t all have the same luck,” he said. “It’s gone badly for me, but I met others along the way who are already (in the U.S.) and had better luck.”

Honduran migrants wait to enter Guatemala at the border crossing in Agua Caliente, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

___

Associated Press writer Sonia Perez D. reported this story in Agua Caliente, Guatemala, and AP writer Elliot Spagat reported from Tijuana, Mexico. AP writers Christopher Sherman and Maria Verza in Mexico City and Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.

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2 thoughts on “New caravan of Honduran migrants makes first border crossing

  1. Why now all of suddenly Honduran migrants crossing? Why not 20 or 30 years ago? Was somebody behind the scene paying Honduran government pushing their people out?

    I understand people are seeking a better life, but you needed to get the paper first and if you love United States of America, don’t bringing any trouble to USA. No drugs, no rapists, no murders, no child smuggling, no gangs, No organized crimes, etc.

    My great grandfather came from Sicily and he arrived at New York, he took the test and etc. He never, once asking for federal assistance. He came here with 20 dollars in his pocket and he worked very hard to providing for his family. He spoken an Italian and learned how to speaking English. He was proud of being an American. He was married in Sicily and he brought his wife, my great grandmother to America. She and my great grandfather became American citizenship. They love America. They never never asking for help from the state and federal. They seek a good life.

    It too bad what happening at Europe. I know million of Europeans have enough of crap with EU leaders about Muslim and migrants. It is sicken that EU leaders betrayed their own people. French President, Macron is an idiot.

    Something too fishy about the wall. I think there are more to than that. Trump said he will declear a National Security. Democrats are full of dummies. Nancy Peosi and Chuck Shummer are very dummy Congress.

    • Thanks for your comment Jim!

      It is very strange that these very large caravans of migrants from South America are happening now one after another. It makes me wonder who is behind this? Whatever the case, it seems like a very good reason for the wall and not against it! If these people really want to come and live in America then they should do it the right way, legally! If not then they are criminals, plain and simple, it doesn’t get any more clear than that. If you break the law then you are a law breaker, if you lie you are a liar, if you steal you are a thief, if you murder you are a murderer, scripture is very clear about these things, that’s why we have the Ten Commandments.

      The Democrats think that its ok for illegal immigrants to just walk right into our nation, therefore they also believe that its ok to break the law. But it even goes deeper than that my friend, they want to change the laws, to make immorality moral, to change the bad into good and the good into bad! Where have we heard that before, hmmm, Isaiah 5:20. And what does the bible say about the Antichrist in the Old Testament?

      Daniel 7:25
      “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
      And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.”

      He intends to change the times and law. What we see happening now is just a precursor of what is coming, when the Antichrist will change the law, and many people including these politicians will play right into his hand!

      God bless! Maranatha!

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