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New 3,000-migrant caravan headed towards US; Trump issues threat

Migrants from Honduras are sitting in a caravan after the Guatemalan police stopped them after crossing the border, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. The police detained the migrants for several hours, but they refused to return to the border and were finally allowed to pass. The group, which is estimated at 1,600 to 2,000 people, wants to go to the United States. (Morena Perez Joachin/DPA/Zuma Press/TNS)
October 16, 2018

A massive caravan of up to 3,000 Honduran migrants is heading for the United States, and President Trump has issued a stern warning for them to stop.

President Trump tweeted Tuesday morning, “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!”

As many as 3,000 migrants comprise the caravan, which originated in Honduras, Central America, and traveled into Guatemala on Monday, according to Reuters.

The caravan began with just 160 people early Friday, but quickly grew to some 1,300 on Saturday when they departed from Honduras on a mission to seek refuge in Mexico or the U.S.

The group began its trek to flee rampant murderous gangs in Honduras, as well as a devastating economy that has left many families unable to provide for themselves. The caravan departed from San Pedro Sula, one of the most dangerous areas in Honduras.

Two confrontations with Guatemalan riot police, banned entry by the Guatemalan government, and threats from the U.S. have not deterred the caravan’s march, however.

Katie Waldman, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman, said in a statement that the caravan was “what we see day-in and day-out at the border as a result of well-advertised and well-known catch-and-release loopholes,” according to the Associated Press.

“Until Congress acts, we will continue to have de-facto open borders that guarantees future ‘caravans’ and record numbers of family units entering the country illegally,” Waldman added.

Mexican immigration authorities warned that migrants would not be allowed entry unless they meet certain requirements.

“The law does not provide for any permission to enter the country without meeting the requirements, and then go on to a third country,” said a statement by Mexico’s migration agency.

Ahead of the caravan gathering, Vice President Mike Pence urged leaders in the region to dissuade citizens from embarking on the long and dangerous march, even offering investment and economic development assistance to encourage citizens to remain home.

The Guatemalan government simply stated they did not endorse or encourage “irregular migration,” Reuters reported.

On Sunday evening, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras issued a statement saying, “We are seriously concerned about the caravan of migrants traveling north from Honduras, with false promises of entering the United States by those who seek to exploit their compatriots.”

In April, another caravan had set off in Central America, but threats from the U.S. to withdraw funding caused the caravan to split apart when it neared the U.S. border.