Caravan of people headed to U.S. 'national emergency'

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"It is a shame that a president so powerful uses this caravan for political ends", said Irineo Mujica of the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras - People Without Borders - which works to provide humanitarian aid to migrants.

Over the weekend, media coverage focused on migrants trying to cross a bridge between two countries - but it was not between Mexico and the United States.

"Go into the middle of the caravan, take your cameras and search", Trump told reporters at the White House.

This is not the first caravan to threaten the southern border.

"They have a lot of everybody in that group, it's a frightful thing, and it's a lot bigger than 5,000 people, and we've got to stop them at the border", Trump told reporters outside the White House.

According to a press release by the U.S. Department of State, the United States is closely following the migrant invasion force, in which thousands of nationals from Honduras and other countries continue to make a unsafe journey through Guatemala and into Mexico. Earlier this year, that other caravan made its way north while under constant rhetorical fire from Trump.

Even if many reach the southern US border, it's unclear how many would attempt to cross at legal points of entry or be processed for asylum claims. "They're joining the caravans because the migration routes through Mexico are perilous for them and highly expensive", says Elizabeth Oglesby, an associate professor of Latin American studies at the University of Arizona, who has studied Central America and human rights issues.

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Numerous travellers say that by keeping together in such a large group, also known as a caravan, is a way to keep safe.

Critics of the caravan have noted that the flags seen among the group include Honduran and Guatemalan flags, but no American flags. The group of men, women and children gathered in Esquipulas before setting out on foot.

The caravan began last week in San Pedro Sula, Nicaragua, before heading northwest through Honduras and finally breaking through into Mexico.

It had comprised between 3,000 and 5,000 people at various times as it moved through Guatemala, according to various sources.

While the president can freeze foreign aid payments for 45 days, ultimately the authority to cancel them rests with Congress.

Around 900 migrants - exhausted of waiting on the bridge - resorted to crossing the Suchiate River below on makeshift rafts and police did not intervene as they clambered up the muddy riverbank on the Mexican side on Saturday. The US government's own foreign assistance website makes clear that the pledged aid, particularly to Honduras, is created to help combat "alarming levels of crime and violence", and treat "high levels of poverty and food insecurity and ineffective governance and corruption".

It went from $209.2 billion in 2016 to $181.7 billion past year, according to the Washington Office on Latin America.

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