Guatemala faces migration test with new Honduras caravan
Guatemala's new president faces an early test of his ability to impose migration controls sought by Washington as a caravan of hundreds of people left neighboring Honduras on Wednesday, aiming to cross his country en route to the United States.
Jillian Kitchener has more.
A new migrant caravan has formed in one of Central America’s most violent cities.
Hundreds of people on Wednesday left San Pedro Sula in Honduras with the aim of reaching the U.S. border.
Juan Hernandez is one of them: (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SAN PEDRO SULA IMMIGRANT, JUAN HERNANDEZ, SAYING: "We have obligations in our homes.
We can't give our children a better future, a better education, so we have no choice but to emigrate.” But first, the migrants must cross into neighboring Guatemala, where - just hours before they started walking - conservative President Alejandro Giammattei took his oath of office.
Guatemala’s brand new president - now facing a major test of his ability to impose immigration controls sought by the United States.
And on his first day in office, he had a call scheduled with President Donald Trump.
Giammattei inherited a contentious deal that his predecessor struck with Washington designed to make migrants from Honduras and El Salvador seek asylum in Guatemala rather than the United States.
But immigrants like Luis Sorto say, they won’t settle for anything less than America: (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SAN PEDRO SULA IMMIGRANT, LUIS SORTO, SAYING: “Our desire is to go to the United States to work.
We want to work, improve our life.
We don't want to be stuck in one place.
We want to fight, fight for our goals, work.
We have family in Honduras that need help." San Pedro Sula was the departure point for a large caravan in 2018 that angered Trump and prompted him to press Central American governments to do more to contain migration.
On Wednesday - Giammattei said Mexico was determined to halt the caravan's advance... but Giammattei said he would allow the caravan to enter Guatemala provided migrants had the required paperwork.
Still - tensions flared.
Officials say Honduran police fired tear gas when a group tried to cross without passing through migration controls.
More than a dozen people who reached the Guatemalan side were detained and sent back.