…As Donald, Melania Trump quarantine, after testing positive for coronavirus***
…Trump condemns white supremacy, far-right group amid backlash***
More than 1,000 Honduran migrants were trekking towards Guatemala on Thursday in the hope of crossing into Mexico and from there to the United States.
This is despite a U.S. warning that their chances of reaching their destination were worse than ever.
The migrants took off, mostly on foot, from San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras late on Wednesday, according to media reports.
They trekked with rucksacks on their backs, some pushing baby carriages and some wearing face masks.
A part of the group was reported to have reached Corinto on the Guatemalan border.
The caravan of migrants fleeing poverty and violence was the first one since Guatemala reopened its borders two weeks ago, after a closure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“My goal is to find a good job,’’ one of the migrants, a man travelling with his wife and daughter, told the news programme Hoy Mismo.
“This is a tough road, but every sacrifice has a reward.’’
However, Guatemala now requires a negative coronavirus test result – in addition to valid documents – for entry into its territory.
Mexico meanwhile denied rumours that it was letting some migrants in.
“Today more than ever, it is more difficult to cross the U.S. border illegally.
“The voyage has become even more dangerous, given the current global COVID-19 pandemic,’’ the U.S. embassy in Honduras said on Twitter.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration earlier signed agreements with Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to stem migration flows.
Mexico then deployed thousands of soldiers in border areas and along migration routes as well as new rules forcing migrants to wait in Mexico until the U.S. had handled their asylum requests.
The processing of the requests has stalled due to the pandemic.
However, the U.S. arrested nearly 50,000 incoming migrants in August, the highest number in almost a year after a steep drop in March and April.
In the meantime the U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, have tested positive for the coronavirus and will quarantine, he wrote on Twitter early on Friday.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump wrote.
The White House physician said Trump and Melania are “both well at this time” but he did not say if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Trump had said several hours earlier that he would begin to quarantine, after his senior adviser Hope Hicks was confirmed to have contracted the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Trump did not say how long he and the first lady would quarantine for.
The result comes five weeks before the U.S.’ November 3 election. Trump’s handling of the pandemic has been repeatedly criticized by Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Late on Thursday, the president confirmed during a Fox News interview that Hicks had tested positive.
“She did test positive, I just heard about this,” Trump said during an interview with Fox News.
Trump appeared to suggest Hicks may have been infected by a member of the military or police.
“It’s very very hard when you are with people from the military or from law enforcement and they come over to you and they want to hug you and they want to kiss you because we really have done a good job for them and you get close and things happen,” Trump said.
“I was surprised to hear with Hope, but she’s a very warm person with them.
“She knows there’s a risk but she’s young,” he added.
He and Melania have spent a lot of time with Hicks, Trump said.
Hicks is among Trump’s closest advisers and often travels with him.
After the interview, Trump tweeted that he would begin to quarantine.
Bloomberg News, which first reported Hicks’ test result, said she was quarantined aboard Air Force One on Wednesday evening while travelling with the president back from a campaign rally in Minnesota.
The presidential adviser is among over 7.2 million Americans, who have tested positive for the virus. More than 200,000 have died.
Trump is often seen in public without a mask, which the White House has justified by saying the president and those he has close contact with are regularly tested for the virus.
The White House in a statement said steps are taken to limit COVID-19 exposure to the president and that all plans and procedures incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere said.
In the meantime, U.S. President Donald Trump denounced white supremacy and the far-right extremist group, Proud Boys, on Thursday evening after failing to do so during the presidential debate.
“I condemn the Proud Boys,” Trump said during an interview with Fox News.
He also condemned white supremacy.
“If I say it a hundred times it won’t be enough, because it’s fake news,” he added.
During Tuesday’s presidential debate, Trump declined to explicitly condemn white supremacist groups when asked to do so by the debate moderator, and instead opted to tell the Proud Boys – a far-right extremist group – to “stand by.”
The statement was widely interpreted as a signal of the president’s support, and critics argued that it was a dog whistle for racist violence.
Earlier on White House on Thursday insisted that President Donald Trump denounced the far-right Proud Boys at this week’s presidential debate, saying that his comment that the group’s members should “stand back and stand by” had been misinterpreted.
During a news conference, however, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president had been trying to tell Proud Boys members to “stand down,” adding that he had explicitly condemned white supremacy in the wake of the debate.
“The President specifically, verbatim was asked yesterday ‘white supremacy, do you denounce them?’ To which he responded, ‘I have always denounced any form of that,’” McEnany said, quoting Trump.
Democratic nominee for President Joe Biden accused Trump on Wednesday of failing to condemn white supremacists.
“There’s no other way to put it: the president of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night,” Biden said in a tweet.
Trump supporters, however, argue that Trump had been trying to discourage the Proud Boys with his comments.
Trump’s campaign firmly opposes any rejigging of the rules for debates, after a chaotic first event saw a flurry of proposals to tweak the format.
“There should not be any changes to what has been agreed to and set out,” Jason Miller, a top adviser on the campaign, said in a press call on Thursday.