Jan. 12, 2019– Mary Greeley News – Another migrant caravan is forming in Honduras, with plans to set out next week on a journey that will once again test the immigration policies of Mexico and the United States.
In much the way last year’s Central American caravan originated, a flier is circulating on Honduran social media. “We’re looking for refuge,” it says. “In Honduras, we are being killed.” It advertises a 5am departure on 15 January from the northern city of San Pedro Sula.
The Mexican government says it is preparing for the group’s arrival.
“We have information that a new caravan is forming to enter our country in mid-January,” Olga Sánchez Cordero, the interior minister, said at a news conference Monday. “We are already taking the necessary steps to ensure the caravan enters in a safe and orderly way.”
When the previous caravan reached Mexico in October, Mexican authorities closed one of the main border crossings but allowed thousands of migrants to swim across the river separating the country from Guatemala. The migrants then continued north through Mexico, most of them travelling without documents.
For all those screaming for more humanitarian aide, the U.S. sends more than 74 million dollars of aide to Honduras every year alone 'America proudly welcomes millions of LAWFUL immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation' -Trumps oval speech
— JT (@AbuTaulbee) January 12, 2019
This time, Sánchez Cordero said, the government will place guards at 370 illegal crossing points and the border will be “controlled to prevent the entry of undocumented people.” But she suggested that members of the caravan could be allowed into the country legally if they apply for visas.
“We don’t know how many people this will be, but it’s a lot,” said Walter Coello, a taxi driver from Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, who helped organize the last caravan and is playing a similar role once again. “With this caravan, the goal is to give them a chance to work and have a better life, be it in Mexico or the United States.”
Last year’s group, with about 7,000 people, was dwarfed by the roughly 400,000 people who were apprehended at the US border in 2018, as well as the more than 100,000 who applied for asylum in that period. But it became a major focus for President Donald Trump, who attempted to use the spectra of an invading caravan to rally his supporters.
On Thursday, Trump deployed similar rhetoric about the new group.
“There is another major caravan forming right now in Honduras, and so far we’re trying to break it up, and so far it’s bigger than anything we’ve ever seen, and a drone isn’t going to stop it, and a sensor isn’t going to stop it, but you know what’s going to stop it in its tracks?” he said. “A nice, powerful wall.”
For Central Americans, who typically depend on expensive and unreliable smugglers to travel to the United States, caravans offer a cheaper, safer way to migrate. So, despite Trump’s opposition, experts say it is likely that they will continue to form.
The new caravan forming in Honduras is proof that what is happening at the border is a crisis. Primarily a humanitarian one. Our porous border is luring more families with children to undertake a dangerous journey. Placing children in danger & overwhelming our asylum system.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 12, 2019
“The caravans are an opening for people,” said Karen Valladares, executive director of the National Forum for Migration in Honduras. “Every day, people leave, but this way they feel more secure. There is more solidarity in going with groups. They don’t have the fear that they are going to be the victims of organized crime.”
Thousands of members of the previous caravan are still waiting in Tijuana to begin their asylum applications. A U.S. policy shift in November requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims are being processed has not yet been implemented, but it could delay their entrance into the United States even further.
Yet in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where pockets of extreme violence persist, and economic opportunities are still limited in many places, there is a widespread perception that the earlier group succeeded.
“Many people see the last caravan as a success in that people were able to travel safely, and they were well taken care of,” Valladares said.
Glen Muños, 18, from the Honduran city of Choloma, plans to travel with the next group this month.
“It’s not just employment or that Honduras is dangerous,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’m young, and I want to know another place.”
Muños’s brother, 36, travelled with last year’s caravan but split off from it in northern Mexico and crossed the border illegally in Texas.
“Honduras is dangerous and I’m not having him stay there. I want him next to me working, not there,” he said of his younger brother in a text message. He spoke on the condition of anonymity now that he is living illegally in the United States.