Hundreds of Honduran migrants have joined a new caravan and begun making their way toward the U.S., Reuters reported Tuesday.
The migrants were seen in TV footage huddling together and waving Honduran flags as they started their long journey from the city of San Pedro Sula late Monday, a day earlier than expected. It's unclear why they left before originally planned, but rain may have played a role.
The group is estimated to be between 600 to 800 members, according to Miroslava Serpas, head of migrant affairs with the CIPRODEH human rights research center. The caravan is made up of men, women, and children.
Some of the migrants begged for food and water from local store owners, according to The Associated Press.
One woman, who was traveling with her 9-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son, said she would ask U.S. authorities for asylum "because it's not possible to live in Honduras anymore." She said her daughter had been raped so badly that she suffered medical issues.
Another member told Reuters that he hopes to find a good job in the U.S.
"I'm determined to find a good job in the United States," 24-year-old caravan member Darwin Perez told Reuters. "It's a difficult road ahead but I hope President Trump's heart might soften, and that he won't be so hard and will let us enter."
What did Trump say about the caravan?
President Donald Trump used the news to urge his supporters to contact Democratic congressional leadership to support a border wall:
A big new Caravan is heading up to our Southern Border from Honduras. Tell Nancy and Chuck that a drone flying around will not stop them. Only a Wall will work. Only a Wall, or Steel Barrier, will keep our Country safe! Stop playing political games and end the Shutdown!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2019
The Trump administration has stood firm against allowing the migrants to illegally enter the U.S.
While some 2,500 people from a previous caravan remain in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, more than 7,000 have returned to Honduras, according to Honduran officials, the AP reported.
Late Monday, the Pentagon announced it would be extending active duty deployments at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as sending additional troops at the request of the Department of Homeland Security, USA Today reported.
There are about 2,350 active-duty troops and 2,200 National Guardsmen at the border.