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Honduras, Guatemala Look To Halt US-Bound Migrant Caravan After Trump Threats

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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The governments of Honduras and Guatemala are taking steps to slow the progress of a U.S.-bound migrant caravan after President Donald Trump threatened to cut aid to them if the group is not stopped.

Honduras’ foreign ministry issued a statement Tuesday calling on its citizens not to join the procession, saying that caravan organizers were misleading migrants with false promises of free passage through Mexico and asylum in the U.S.

The government “urges the Hondurans taking part in this irregular mobilization not to be used by a movement that is clearly political,” the statement said, according to Reuters.

As the caravan crossed from Honduras into Guatemala on Tuesday, Guatemalan police detained caravan organizer Bartolo Fuentes on suspicion of immigration violations. Fuentes, a former Honduran lawmaker, was arrested because he “did not comply with Guatemalan immigration rules” and will be deported back to Honduras, the Honduran security ministry said.

A caravan of more than 1,500 Honduran migrants pauses at a Guatemalan police checkpoint after crossing the border from Honduras on October 15, 2018 in Esquipulas, Guatemala. The caravan, the second of 2018, began Friday in San Pedro Sula, Honduras with plans to march north through Guatemala and Mexico en route to the United States. Honduras has some of the highest crime and poverty rates in Latin America. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

A caravan of more than 1,500 Honduran migrants pauses at a Guatemalan police checkpoint after crossing the border from Honduras on October 15, 2018 in Esquipulas, Guatemala. The caravan, the second of 2018, began Friday in San Pedro Sula, Honduras with plans to march north through Guatemala and Mexico en route to the United States. Honduras has some of the highest crime and poverty rates in Latin America. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The moves came after Trump announced he would halt aid to Central American governments if they did not act to stop the outflow of migrants. Trump made similar threats in April in response to an annual caravan of Central American migrants that managed to reach the U.S. border after a highly publicized journey through Mexico.

“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 wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning.

Later that day, he added Guatemala and El Salvador to his threat to cut foreign aid over the migrant caravan.

“We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!” Trump wrote.

The latest caravan, dubbed “March of the Migrant,” formed in the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Friday, numbering about 150 migrants. It has since swelled to more than 2,000 people, many of whom have already crossed into neighboring Guatemala. (RELATED: Another Huge Migrant Caravan Forms In Honduras With Aim Of Reaching US Border)

Caravan members say they are fleeing endemic poverty and violence in Honduras. Upon reaching Mexico, the migrants intend to request refugee status or transit visas that will allow them to keep moving north to U.S. ports of entry.

Adults from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala only need to show their national identity cards to cross each other’s borders. The rule doesn’t apply in Mexico, which has already said it will not issue entry visas for migrants who don’t meet “the requirements to transit toward a neighboring country.”

It is not clear how many, if any, caravan migrants Mexico will allow to cross its southern border and continue northward. Mexican authorities granted humanitarian visas to some of the migrants in April but also detained and repatriated hundreds more.

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