Thousands of migrants from Central America are marching their way to the United States. A migrant activist group representing the caravan is calling for the Biden administration to honor its “commitment.”
Guatemala’s immigration authority told Reuters that up to 8,000 migrants from Honduras have entered Guatemala since Friday. Guatemalan authorities said they have already detained hundreds of Honduran migrants from the caravan.
The caravan broke through a wall of law enforcement officers at the Guatemala border.
The migrants are fleeing political corruption, violence, and extreme poverty in Honduras, which all worsened due to the Covid-19 pandemic and two devastating Category 4 hurricanes that hit the country within a two-week span in November.
Maria Jesus Paz, mother of four who lost her home in the hurricanes, said “We have nothing to feed to our children, and thousands of us were left sleeping on the streets. This is why we make this decision, even though we know that the journey could cost us our lives.”
The mass migration started just a week before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The migrants are expecting that Biden will have a much more welcoming immigration policy than President Donald Trump.
Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a migrant rights group, issued a statement on behalf of the people participating in the first caravan of 2021. Fox News shared the statement:
“We recognize the importance of the incoming Government of the United States having shown a strong commitment to migrants and asylum seekers, which presents an opportunity for the governments of Mexico and Central America to develop policies and a migration management that respect and promote the human rights of the population in mobility. We will advocate that the Biden government honors its commitments.”
During his presidential campaign run, Biden pledged to end Migrant Protection Protocols on day one of his presidency. The program, which was enacted by the Trump administration in January 2019, makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexico during the duration of their immigration court cases.
Biden’s immigration plan is expected to give a pathway to citizenship to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.
Biden has also promised a moratorium on deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
But Susan Rice, Biden’s domestic policy advisor, warned that changes in immigration wouldn’t happen immediately.
“Processing capacity at the border is not like a light that you can just switch on and off,” Rice told Spanish wire service EFE in December. “Migrants and asylum seekers absolutely should not believe those in the region peddling the idea that the border will suddenly be fully open to process everyone on Day 1. It will not.”
“Our priority is to reopen asylum processing at the border consistent with the capacity to do so safely and to protect public health, especially in the context of COVID-19,” Rice said. “This effort will begin immediately but it will take months to develop the capacity that we will need to reopen fully.”
The caravan reaching the U.S. border will depend on how much the Guatemalan and Mexican governments crackdown on the illegal immigrants traveling north toward the U.S.