By José de Córdoba
MEXICO CITY—A new caravan of Honduran migrants has set out toward the U.S., prompting President Trump to press his case that a border wall is the only way to stop illegal immigration.
A group of about 500 migrants, including families, set out from a bus station in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula late Monday, according to video images on local media and Karla Rivas, an official with ERIC, a local Jesuit organization that monitors migration. Another group of some 600 migrants set out early Tuesday, Ms. Rivas said, adding that they appear to have plans to merge.
The caravan is fueling the debate over Mr. Trump’s proposed border that has led to a partial shutdown of the U.S. government. The president is demanding Congress include $5.7 billion in this year’s budget to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico to stem illegal immigration, drugs and crime that he says is flooding in.
Democrats say a wall would be ineffective in fixing those problems and is a waste of money. They also point to the lowest levels of illegal immigration across the southern border since the early 1970s. Without a budget deal, the government has been partially closed for 25 days as of Tuesday, the longest in modern U.S. history.
“Tell Nancy and Chuck that a drone flying around will not stop them. Only a wall will work,” Mr. Trump said in a Twitter message.
Part of the caravans members are on foot, but others have taken buses. Early Tuesday, Guatemalan officials denied entry to about 60 migrants who didn’t have valid identification, said Ms. Rivas, as they passed through the neighboring country on their way to Mexico and to the U.S.
The migrants have been organizing through social media for longer than a month, according to a WhatsApp group monitored by The Wall Street Journal.
“There is no visible leadership,” said Ms. Rivas. “It’s the same dynamic as the last caravans, spreading the word through social media.”
On Tuesday, messages on the chat group showed pictures of some of the migrants stopping along the road in Honduras to eat tamales.
The caravan follows several far bigger caravans ahead of midterm elections last year that created widespread attention as Mr. Trump and his allies made immigration and secure borders a priority issue. The biggest had as many as 7,000 people as it made its way across Mexico to the U.S. border.
The Honduran government estimates about half of the migrants in the first caravans returned home. Many of the rest are in border cities like Tijuana waiting to apply for asylum in the U.S. Mexico has offered many of them work permits while they wait.
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