Over 3,500 migrants enter Guatemala with Mexico and US in their sights

Over 3,500 migrants enter Guatemala with Mexico and US in their sights

At least 3,500 Central Americans have entered Guatemala in US-bound caravans from Honduras, heading to Mexico and the United States, according to authorities on January 17. The massive migration is reportedly placing pressure on other regions, with US President Donald Trump’s demands to curb illegal immigration.

Heightened Mexican border control

Mexican authorities are bracing for the arrival of hundreds of Central Americans crossing from Guatemala into Mexico on their way north. Authorities say migrants have mostly crossed the northern part of the Guatemalan border with Honduras.

Mexican National Guard and army troops are standing watch as hundreds of migrants are expected to arrive in droves from Central America. About 100 additional guardsmen with riot shields arrived on January 17 awaiting orders. Soldiers are also expected to continue arriving from Tapachula in southern Mexico to closely monitor the situation.

Reaction from governments

The event is likely to be closely monitored by the US government. President Trump has been pressuring Mexico and Central American nations to accept a series of migration pacts that aim to shift the responsibility of dealing with asylum seekers onto them, and away from the United States.

“We do not want to see our citizens used as pawns, or be made to suffer because of political battles in Honduras or the United States,” the Honduran government said in a statement. “The government was creating economic opportunities and legal migration options. This caravan is another attempt to disrupt this,” read the statement.

Guatemala’s president, Alejandro Giammattei, said on January 25 that Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard informed him the country would not allow the new caravan to pass. Mexican Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero said the border will be policed and the government will not issue any safe-conduct visas to the migrants.

Migrant caravans

The Central American migrant caravans, or Viacrucis del Migrante (Migrant’s Way of the Cross), are migrant caravans that travel from the Guatemala–Mexico border to the Mexico–United States border.

The largest and best known of these is organized by Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders.) During Holy Week every year, the organization helps Central American individuals and families leave their homes in the hope to be granted asylum in Mexico or the United States.

The majority of the migrants held at the US border with Mexico have left El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras due to rising poverty and gang violence in their native lands. Unlike its neighbor, Honduras, Mexico has not agreed to provide asylum to migrants arriving from Central America.