Monday a “caravan” of as many as 3,000 Hondurans marched across the border into Guatemala after a standoff with police. The Hondurans said their goal was to reach the U.S. border and apply for asylum. This morning, President Trump tweeted that he could cut off foreign aid to the country unless the caravan is stopped:
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018
Vice President Pence added this:
Spoke to President Hernandez of Honduras about the migrant caravan heading to the U.S. Delivered strong message from @POTUS: no more aid if caravan is not stopped. Told him U.S. will not tolerate this blatant disregard for our border & sovereignty. https://t.co/d0fOMcpoUi
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) October 16, 2018
That seems to have gotten some prompt results. Reuters reports that earlier today the organizer of the caravan was pulled out of the crowd in Guatemala:
Guatemalan police officers detained Bartolo Fuentes, a former member of the Honduran Congress, from the middle of a large crowd he and three other organizers had led from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, since Saturday, bound for Mexico.
The Honduran security ministry said Fuentes was detained because he “did not comply with Guatemalan immigration rules” and would be deported back to Honduras in the coming hours.
Up to 3,000 migrants, according to organizers’ estimates, crossed from Honduras into Guatemala on Monday on a trek northward, after a standoff with Guatemalan police in riot gear and warnings from Washington that migrants should not try to enter the United States illegally…
“What Trump says doesn’t interest us,” organizer Fuentes said in an interview shortly before his detention. “These people are fleeing. These people are not tourists.”
So it sounds as if the group’s leaders is on his way home but what about everyone else? Yesterday the report was that there were 1,600 to 2,000 migrants in the group. Today Reuters is reporting 3,000 and CNN is reporting the correct number may be 4,000.
Caravan organizers tell me about 4,000 migrants, which started in Honduras, are now in Guatemala heading to the U.S. President Trump is threatening to cut aid to Honduras if the caravan is not stopped. pic.twitter.com/wn8G8BlFUq
— Leyla Santiago (@leylasantiago) October 16, 2018
Whatever the actual number, Mexico says it intends to stop the caravan when it reaches their southern border. From the Washington Post:
Mexico said it intends to stop the caravan.
When the migrants arrive at Mexico’s southern border, “the migration personnel will review compliance with the legal requirements, and those who do not comply, will not be allowed entry,” the National Institute of Migration, the government’s migration agency, said in a statement Tuesday.
Former ICE Director James Homan appeared on Fox News today and argued that if the issue is fleeing violence, the migrants could claim asylum in Mexico (or Guatemala) but the group has already admitted the plan is to get to the United States.
Thomas Homan: This president, when it comes to border security, national security, immigration and rule of law, he’s a warrior. pic.twitter.com/ZIqiHeArIg
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 16, 2018
As I said yesterday, it seems clear that a significant number of these migrants are marching north in hopes of finding a better job and a better life. While I can certainly understand the motivation, the problem for the U.S. is that there are another 9 million people in Honduras who probably want the same thing, given a choice. So if this caravan of 4,000 succeeds there will be another one twice as large forming right behind them. The best way to stop that next caravan on the horizon (and the ones after that) is to stop this one right now.