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Few migrants reverse course after Guatemala’s president threatens detention, deportation

Kaylee Greenlee on October 3, 2020

Only a few dozen Honduran migrants reversed course after the Guatemalan government threatened detention and deportation as hundreds have continued to press toward Mexico with hope of reaching the U.S., the Associated Press reported Friday.

The migrant caravan split into two routes, with around 700 boarding vehicles headed north while another 400 went west by foot or by bus, the AP reported. About 800 more were headed toward where the routes split.

A checkpoint with about 100 armed soldiers and 20 police officers stopped around 1,000 migrants Friday night, the AP reported.

“You cannot deny us the right to go on,” a migrant said, the AP reported. “Tell your bosses to give us a chance.”

The officer said their orders were to return the migrants to Honduras since they entered the country illegally, the AP reported. An earlier checkpoint reportedly allowed around 300 migrants through.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said he would send the 2,000-person caravan back to Honduras over concerns about coronavirus, the AP reported. Giammattei temporarily suspended some constitutional rights in order to easily detain the migrants.

“The order has been given to detain all those who entered illegally, and return them to the border of their country,” Giammattei said in an announcement Thursday. “We will not allow any foreigner who has used illegal means to enter the country, to think that they have the right to come and infect us and put us at serious risk.”

Most of the migrants returning to Honduras on Friday went voluntarily, the AP reported. Around 108 migrants agreed to return, and 25 unaccompanied minors were in social service custody, according to Guatemala’s immigration agency.

“The dream is over for the moment,” migrant Edwin Pineda, 25, said, the AP reported. “Maybe next time I’ll try it alone.”

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