About 1,300 people from Honduras began a journey from to the U.S. border on Saturday, just days after the U.S. asked that nation’s president to stop mass migration, Reuters news reported.
What is happening?
Members of the so-called “March of the Migrant” plan to walk from San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras through Guatemala and into Mexico, organizer Bartolo Fuentes told the news outlet. Once in Mexico, they plan to request refugee status to either remain in that country or get a visa to pass through to the U.S. border.
The caravan is coming despite President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policies on illegal immigration.
“I believe we’ll get to the United States," Fanny Barahona, 35, an unemployed teacher, told the news outlet. "There’s no work in Honduras, and you live in fear that they’re going to kill you or your children."
Barahona was walking with her nine-year-old son and was carrying her a two-year-old daughter, according to the report.
In April, Trump called for tougher border security and demanded a similar group of migrants be denied entry. People from that group also told media they were “fleeing death threats, extortion and violence from powerful street gangs.”
“There is no work and so much violence that you can get killed walking down the street,” Javier Solis, 25, said. He told the news outlet he has not had a job in a year. He previously tried to enter Mexico but was deported back to Honduras, according to the report.
More than 64 percent of Honduran households are in poverty, according to the report. San Pedro Sula also has one of the world’s highest murder rates.
On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence met with the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in Washington, Reuters reported. He reportedly told them the U.S. is willing to help with economic development and investment if the countries start addressing “migration, corruption and gang violence.”
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez reportedly complained that U.S. funding is declining.
Reuters also reported that he asked for the U.S. to reunite migrant children with their parents. The practice of separating families trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border has placed Honduras under an enormous amount of pressure, he told the news outlet.