Wednesday, April 24, 2019 | ePaper
Hundreds of migrants form caravan in Honduras to head for the US
AFP, San Pedro Sula :
The caravan formed after an appeal on social media.
Almost 1,000 people gathered Tuesday night in the town of San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras to form a new caravan to reach the United States, police said.
"There are more than 800, almost a thousand," a police official told AFP, with the Red Cross reporting the same number.
The caravan, which followed a call on social media, took the authorities by surprise after similar appeals since February failed to muster numbers.
Many families with children were among those gathered, and some have already started their journeys in crowded minibuses.
Alexis Perez, 27, said: "We are done with this government, there is no work."
Since October 13, when the first caravan of 2,000 set off, three other similar convoys of migrants have left Honduras for the US in search of work or fleeing drug-traffickers.
The groups are a target of President Donald Trump, who has vowed to tighten migration policy and build a wall to stop them from entering the United States through Mexico.
Several thousand Central Americans have trekked across Mexico by caravan since last year, fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries. They travel en masse in hopes of finding safety in numbers against Mexican gangs that regularly extort, kidnap and kill migrants, sometimes in collusion with local authorities.
In the southeastern most pocket of the US state of New Mexico, with El Paso, Texas, to the east and Mexico a stone's throw south, there is a small camp: a few tents and a weathered trailer.
It is home to the half dozen or so members of the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP) - a small but well-armed militia dipping their toes into the US border vigilante movement.
In recent months, thousands of migrants have arrived in Mexico, primarily Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence at home.
US President Donald Trump has described them as a threat to national security, demanding billions of dollars from Congress to build a wall on the southern border.
The resignation of Trump's Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Sunday, reportedly over the president's push to restart family separations at the border, has underscored his failure to get to grips with the issue.
And until the wall is built, the UCP insist they will be there.
"We're here to assist the border patrol because they are so short handed," the group's leader, 70-year-old "Striker," told AFP.
"We have a good work rapport with them," he said. "Our goal was to be here until we're not needed. And when we're not needed is when that wall is up."
Based out of Flora Vista, New Mexico, the group - made up mostly of older veterans - enjoys an enthusiastic social media following.