The chief of the Federal Police traveled to Tapachula, Chiapas, yesterday as a huge caravan of migrants from Hondurans makes its way north through Guatemala to the Mexican border. Final destination: the United States of America.
The National Security Commission said police chief Manelich Castilla will help the National Immigration Institute (INM) bolster security in the border region.
The caravan was made up of about 160 people when it left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Friday but its numbers have now swollen to an estimated 2,000 people.
The migrants crossed into Guatemala yesterday, overwhelming attempts by security forces to stop them. They spent the night in the town of Esquipulas before some restarted their journey towards Mexico today.
“In Honduras, there are no jobs and the jobs that do exist aren’t enough to live on,” 32-year-old José Francisco Hernández told The Washington Post.
“We can’t go to the city because it is full of gang members, and that is hurting us. We decided to migrate from the country to see if we can find a better life.”
News of the caravan raised the ire of U.S. President Trump, who has made strong border security a hallmark of his administration.
“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 this morning.
However, given that the migrants have already left Honduras, the ability of authorities in that country to do anything to halt their onward march appears limited.
The next border crossing will take the caravan into Chiapas, about 500 kilometers from Esquipulas, but getting across might be a difficult proposition for many.
The INM said in a statement yesterday that it will deny entry to any members of the caravan that don’t have a visa to enter Mexico.
“The INM reiterates to the members of the ‘migrant walk’ that . . . upon arriving at entry points on Mexico’s southern border, immigration personnel must review compliance with the requirements established by the law and those who don’t comply will not be allowed to enter,” it said.
The INM added that while Mexico has a range of international measures in place to protect the rights of migrants, “the law does not provide for any permission to enter the country without complying with the [visa] requirements.”
A large migrant caravan crossed Mexico earlier this year before reaching the United States border in late April.
As they traveled through the country, authorities registered hundreds of the migrants, providing them with letters of safe passage which protected them from deportation for up to a month.
It is unclear whether authorities will grant the same protection to migrants who enter the country without official permission.
Amnesty International’s Mexico office called on authorities today to offer asylum to the Hondurans, warning that turning them away would represent a violation of international law. It prohibits returning people to situations in which they face the risk of persecution or human rights violations.