A new migrant caravan that left for the United States this week, has already swelled to 2,000 people as the group makes its way north.
The Honduras National Commission of Human Rights estimated that the caravan, which started with hundreds of people, swelled to about 2,000 by the afternoon of Jan. 15, reported Fox News.
The latest caravan was organized by open-borders group Pueblos Sin Fronteras, which was believed by some to be behind the caravans that made it to northern Mexico in late 2018 before clashing with American Border Patrol agents.
The group said that it expected the caravan to grow to 4,000 people.
Bartolo Fuentes, an open socialist who took credit for the last caravans, was accompanying the new one.
The last caravans, four in total, left weeks apart in some cases but coalesced in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, with about 6,000 people there at its peak. The waves of migrants devastated the city’s budget, angered some locals, and ultimately forced officials to move the group away from the border to a more remote location.
In the end, many of the members turned home after finding it more difficult than they realized to make it into the United States. Most caravan members described situations in interviews with news outlets that would not qualify for asylum, such as leaving their countries due to poverty. Most asylum claims in the United States aren’t granted by the end of the process.
Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports tighter immigration enforcement, said the departure of a new caravan wasn’t surprising considering the number of people helping organize them.
“Probably there are multiple parties involved, who have an interest in challenging the sovereign right of the United States to determine who can enter the country and under what circumstances,” he said. “You have opportunists and you have people who, understandably, want to come to the United States.”
President Donald Trump noted the formation of the newest caravan, which has already crossed into Guatemala, reacting on Twitter.
A big new Caravan is heading up to our Southern Border from Honduras. Tell Nancy and Chuck that a drone flying around will not stop them. Only a Wall will work. Only a Wall, or Steel Barrier, will keep our Country safe! Stop playing political games and end the Shutdown!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2019
.@DHSgov is closely monitoring the new caravan heading north. To be clear – participation in a caravan does not grant you a special status or provide you special treatment.
— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) January 16, 2019
“A big new Caravan is heading up to our Southern Border from Honduras. Tell Nancy [Pelosi] and Chuck [Schumer] that a drone flying around will not stop them. Only a Wall will work. Only a Wall, or Steel Barrier, will keep our Country safe! Stop playing political games and end the Shutdown!” he said.
“Polls are now showing that people are beginning to understand the Humanitarian Crisis and Crime at the Border. Numbers are going up fast, over 50%. Democrats will soon be known as the Party of Crime. Ridiculous that they don’t want Border Security!” he added soon after.
Trump and the Democrats are in a standoff over funding for about a quarter of the federal government; the president refuses to sign appropriations that don’t include funding for the border wall. He has requested $5.7 billion. Democrats have refused to approve any such funding, leaving an impasse that has resulted in the longest partial government shutdown in history.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kristjen Nielsen also announced that American officials would be keeping a close eye on the caravan.
“DHS is closely monitoring the new caravan heading north. To be clear – participation in a caravan does not grant you a special status or provide you special treatment,” she said.