US Diplomat in Honduras Tells ‘Caravan’ Migrants to Return Home, But Still They Come

By Patrick Goodenough | October 18, 2018 | 4:21am EDT
Honduran migrants walk northwards near Esquipulas, Guatemala on October 16, 2018. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

( – The senior-most U.S. diplomat in Honduras on Wednesday urged illegal migrants making the “perilous journey” north not to do so, echoing President Trump’s warnings that anyone entering the U.S. illegally will be arrested and deported.

Responding to the latest U.S.-bound migrant “caravan,” Heide Fulton posted a video clip on her Twitter feed, urging Hondurans taking part in the campaign to return home.

She said participants were being tricked by false promises from political parties and criminals, who do not care about their safety and wellbeing.

“If you are thinking about embarking on the perilous journey, don’t do it,” Fulton said in the Spanish message. “Do not become impoverished in a journey destined to fail – it’s not worth risking your his life and those of your relatives.”

Fulton said the U.S. knows the difficulties faced by many in Honduras, which is why it invests millions of dollars to help Hondurans to improve their security, education and economic opportunities.

(A senior State Department official said Wednesday the U.S. has provided the “northern triangle” countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador more than $2.6 billion in foreign aid since late 2015.)

“Believe in the future of the Honduran people,” Fulton said. “Your future, your ‘north,’ is here.”

A similar message came from the U.S. Ambassador in Guatemala, Luis Arreaga, who in a video clip on Twitter repeated Trump’s warning, and stated that the U.S. border “has never been as controlled as it is now.”

On Saturday, hundreds of Hondurans, including many children, left the northern city of San Pedro Sula, aiming to travel together through Guatemala and Mexico to the U.S. border.

After a reported two-hour standoff on Monday, around 100 Guatemalan police officers were unable to prevent the throng from entering that country from the south. Police estimate the group has grown to 2,000 while other reports put the number at twice that size.

The migrants – some walking, others in cars and trucks – are now headed for the Guatemala-Mexico border, some 300 miles away.

Mexico’s government on Wednesday dispatched federal police reinforcements to border crossings in the area.

The foreign and interior ministries said in a joint statement that anyone in the migrant caravan who enters Mexico “in an irregular manner” will be held and returned to their country of origin, saying such action complies with national regulations but is also aimed at preventing people from falling victim to migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks.

The ministries said anyone wanting to cross into Mexico with valid travel documents and a visa will be allowed entry, and anyone who wishes to apply for asylum may do so, in line with current regulations and procedures.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit Mexico on Friday, and a senior State Department official told reporters in a background briefing the migration issue would be “prominent” in his discussions with Mexican officials.

Asked whether Pompeo would have any specific requests of Mexico regarding the caravan the official said “I’m certain that there’ll be conversations with Mexico about how we can work together on this issue” but declined to get into details.

“But certainly we’re looking for concrete results and for solutions that work for both countries.”

‘Great Midterm issue for Republicans!’

Trump has posted several strong-worded Twitter messages in recent days in response to the campaign, warning the three “northern triangle” countries that U.S. aid could be in jeopardy.

“The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!” the president tweeted on Tuesday.

Later, he added, “Anybody entering the United States illegally will be arrested and detained, prior to being sent back to their country!”

“We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!”

On Wednesday, Trump linked the issue to next month’s elections.

“Hard to believe that with thousands of people from South of the Border, walking unimpeded toward our country in the form of large Caravans, that the Democrats won’t approve legislation that will allow laws for the protection of our country,” he tweeted. “Great Midterm issue for Republicans!”

Under pressure from the U.S., Guatemalan authorities on Tuesday arrested a man believed to be a caravan organizer, a leftist former lawmaker named Bartolo Fuentes. The Honduran government said Fuentes would be deported.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke to Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez by phone Tuesday, and tweeted afterwards that he had “made clear our borders & sovereignty must be maintained.”

Morales signaled the launch of an international investigation into whether migrant caravan campaigns were being funded by people with political motives, Germany’s DPA press agency reported.

Meanwhile Morales’ wife, First Lady Patricia Marroquin de Morales made a public appeal, urging Central Americans not to make the dangerous journey, pointing especially to the risks for children.

“We Central Americans have a great treasure that we must protect, it's about childhood, which every day faces new challenges to get ahead,” she said. “As parents, it is our responsibility to take care of them because they are the future of Central America.”

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