In recent reports from this week, thousands of migrants from Central America have been making the long journey north towards the United States in an effort to flee persecution, poverty and violence in their home countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico. The migrants traveling to seek asylum face a variety of dangers as they make the journey, such as dehydration and criminal gangs, but many of the migrants have said that they feel safer traveling in numbers.
Many previous migrant caravans have numbered just a few hundred people in past history. But after a former ex-lawmaker by the name of Bartolo Fuentes from Honduras posted on Facebook about the plan, news spread quickly. By the time the groups set off in the early hours of October 13, more than 1,000 Hondurans had joined. A spokesman for the United Nations has said that more than 7,000 people have so far joined the group as of October 22. In Venezuela the migration has been largely invisible, with few being able to keep track of the dead and missing. The head of Colombia’s forensic services office has said, “They can’t withstand a trip that hard because the journey is very long, they don’t eat, and as a result they die”.
Although there is a legal obligation to hear asylum claims from migrants, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in June that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence would no longer typically qualify under it. On Monday Trump threatened to cut off foreign aid to those countries, but he has not specified what money will be cut and it is unclear how he would do so. On the social media site Twitter Trump also commented “Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. we will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them”. Amid fake news reports, Trump has repeatedly suggested the caravan is politically motivated by the Democrats and also tweeted that the caravan contained “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” and when later questioned by press house reporters on what he meant, he offered no origin for the claim but invited reporters to investigate for themselves.