Posted on December 14, 2020

A New Migrant Caravan Forms in Honduras, in Early Test for Biden

Santiago Perez, Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2020

More than 1,000 Honduran migrants headed toward Guatemala on Thursday, seeking to reach the U.S. southern border after two hurricanes brought economic devastation to the country’s poor.

Most members of the migrant caravan that departed on Wednesday night from the bus terminal of San Pedro Sula are betting that the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden will roll back some of the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policies.

“We have asked God to help us and we believe that the new U.S. government will let us in,” said Bertha Méndez, a 25-year-old homemaker who had been living in a shack made up of plastic sheets and cardboard after heavy rains destroyed her house in the northern municipality of Choloma.


But workers who assist migrants along the routes heading north believe the caravan has little chance of reaching U.S. soil. In October, thousands of Honduran migrants were blocked by Guatemalan security officers as they headed to Mexico. The Mexican government that month also deployed security forces at busy border crossings with Guatemala to prevent migrants from entering illegally.

Guatemalan government officials are unwilling to strain ties with the U.S. government amid expectations of financial aid from a new Biden administration, said Father Mauro Verzeletti, the director of a Scalabrinian Missionary-run shelter in Guatemala City.

Guatemala’s national police said they were preparing for the arrival of migrants at the border crossing of Agua Caliente, in the department of Esquipulas. {snip} A Guatemalan migration official said migrants would be required to have a valid passport and a Covid-19 test to enter the country, requirements that few can meet and would likely lead to most being turned back.


Like the nine caravans that departed from Central America over the past two years, this one was organized on social media, mostly Facebook and WhatsApp, with the title: “Looking for the American Dream.” Another one is planned for January.

Besides the highly visible caravans, many migrants are traveling on their own or with relatives assisted by coyotes, as people smugglers are known. More than 5,400 Honduran migrants were apprehended by Mexican authorities in October, the largest group by nationality.

More than 66,000 individuals were apprehended by U.S. authorities at the Southwest Border with Mexico in October, compared with 51,000 people in the same month last year.