A caravan of migrants from Central America who say they are fleeing poverty and gang violence arrived at the Guatemala border Monday, hoping they eventually will reach the United States.
Guatemalan authorities have warned they will not let the group pass, but the migrants sang the national anthem, prayed and chanted, “Yes, we can,” the Associated Press reported.
“We have rights,” they shouted.
Among the migrants are families with infants and toddlers. They spent Sunday night at a community center in the town of Ocotepeque, Honduras, AP said in a previous report.
The group has grown in size as it has made its way north, with many who already had planned to leave Honduras joining in, reasoning that traveling in large numbers would be safer.
AP said the caravan formed one day after Vice President Mike Pence urged the presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to persuade their citizens to stay home.
“Tell your people: Don’t put your families at risk by taking the dangerous journey north to attempt to enter the United States illegally,” said Pence.
When a similar caravan set out from Honduras in the spring, President Trump threatened to withdraw foreign aid from Honduras and from any country that allowed transit for a similar caravan.
The migrants cite poverty as their chief motivation, with 65 percent of Honduras’ 9.4 million people regarded as poor.
Honduras also has led the world for homicide rates in recent years.
Mexico’s Interior Ministry warned Saturday that Mexico does not issue entry visas for those who don’t meet “the requirements to transit toward a neighboring country.”
Mexico also pointed out it issues visas at its consulates abroad, not at border entry points.
If the migrants reach Mexico, they plan to request refugee status or transit visas to enable them to cross the country and arrive at a U.S. border crossing.