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Honduran Migrants Endure Setbacks on Journey to US

FILE - Honduran migrants get a ride on the back of a truck as they travel north in hopes of reaching the United States, in Quezaltepeque, Guatemala, Jan. 17, 2020.
FILE - Honduran migrants get a ride on the back of a truck as they travel north in hopes of reaching the United States, in Quezaltepeque, Guatemala, Jan. 17, 2020.

Hundreds of Honduran migrants are encountering problems from Guatemalan and Mexican security forces as they continue their journey to the United States.

Fears of a confrontation intensified Friday as about 1,000 migrants, who lacked food after walking hundreds of kilometers from Honduras, were blocked by about 100 police and army soldiers at a roadblock in northern Guatemala.

Saturday morning, hundreds of the migrants who entered Guatemala without registering were bused back to the Guatemalan border after running into the roadblock.

Small groups of migrants were still walking before dawn Saturday along the highway where the roadblock is located, but a short while later none of the estimated 1,000 migrants remained in the area. Undeterred, many of the migrants’ plan to continue their trek to the U.S.

Guatemalan authorities said the original group of about 2,000 migrants was split after 108 agreed to return to Honduras, some traveling north to the roadblock, and others walking, hitching rides or catching buses to Guatemala City.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei promised to apprehend the migrants and send them back to the border, declaring they represent a health threat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The migrants are heading to the U.S. as Latin America suffers from widespread job losses sparked by the pandemic.

Their journey comes two years after a caravan was formed shortly before the U.S. midterm elections and became a hot campaign issue. The migrants initially received support from communities along the way, particularly in southern Mexico.

But Mexico deployed National Guard troops and immigration agents to intercept large groups of migrants after U.S. President Donald Trump, who is seeking reelection, threatened tariffs on Mexican imports of it did not stem the flow of migrants to the U.S. border.

Mexico's migration authority chief Francisco Garduno said this week the government would deploy hundreds of military and immigration personnel to its border to prevent the caravan from entering the country.

Mexican President Lopez Obrador suggested the caravan was associated with the November 3 U.S. presidential election.

“It has to do with the election in the United States,” Obrador told reporters. “I don’t have all the elements, but I think there are indications that it was put together for this purpose. I don’t know to whose benefit, but we’re not naive.”

The Trump administration said Thursday it would admit a record low 15,000 refugees during the coming year.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has vowed to raise the refugee cap to 125,000, saying accepting persecuted people is consistent with American values.

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