A Central American migrant caravan traveling through Guatemala to the southern border of the United States was forced to return to Honduras in an effort that was funded and partially administered by the U.S. government, according to a report.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Guatemala worked with national police to apprehend approximately 300 migrants in a group that left Honduras on foot earlier this week, the Associated Press reported Friday. Guatemalan law enforcement said the U.S. paid for the three buses used to take the hundreds back to Honduras, signaling a new level of American involvement in blocking migration from the region.

The group of migrants was apprehended by ICE and Guatemalan police in the Guatemalan town of Cinchado, just miles from the Honduran border. The group was told by Guatemalan officials at the site that they had to bring proper documents with them that were required to pass through the country. ICE did not respond to a request for comment on its involvement.

Photos and videos shot by journalists tracking the group’s movement indicate it is composed of families with babies and young children, unaccompanied teens, and single adults. Local officials encountered a separate caravan of migrants estimated to be double the size of the other about 100 miles southwest of Cinchado on Thursday. Guatemalan police informed the group they would send them back over the border river via ferry so that those who had not registered to travel through the country could do so before continuing north.

Caravan migrant cries out

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Thursday he was not concerned about reports of a caravan of people moving to the southern border of the U.S. He described it as being smaller than previous caravans that traversed Central America and Mexico in 2018 and 2019. The group is significantly smaller than the 10,000 who made a similar trek in April 2019 and another in late 2018, though other caravans had also started out small.

Wolf said systems were in place in Guatemala, Mexico, and at the U.S. border to block migrants, including those seeking asylum. The Trump administration has been in talks with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras over the past year to require asylum-seekers traveling through those countries to seek refuge there first. However, the U.S. has only entered an official agreement with Guatemala, which would mean those passing through from Honduras are supposed to apply for asylum in Guatemala instead of going on to Mexico or the U.S.

Source: Washington Examiner