By Sierra Juarez
QUERETARO, Mexico (AA) – Mexico flew at least 219 migrants back to Honduras on Tuesday, according to the country’s National Institute of Migration.
The migrants were part of a caravan bound for the U.S. that arrived at the southern border of Mexico over the weekend. Most of them are from Honduras.
The institute said in a statement that it has begun the process of sending them back to their home countries.
“The return flight, the first of several planned, was carried out in strict compliance with respect for human rights,” it said.
The first plane carrying 109 migrants left Tuesday morning from the southern state of Tabasco and a second plane left in the afternoon carrying 110 migrants. There are also plans for bus returns.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said at a press conference that the migrants are being offered three options: they can apply for refuge, obtain temporary work permits in Mexico or return home.
“Mexico has one of the most generous positions in the world with respect to migrants who come to our country,” Ebrard said.
“In very few countries in the world do they offer [migrants] refuge or temporary work.”
Many of the migrants in the caravan had hoped to reach the U.S. But in the last several months, Mexico has cracked down on northern migration.
U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on Mexico if the government does not reduce the flow of migrants reaching the country.
The Mexican government announced last September that it had cut migration to the U.S. by 56%.