Posted on January 18, 2021

Incoming Biden Administration to Migrant Caravan: Don’t Come, You Won’t Get in Immediately

Julia Ainsley, NBC News, January 17, 2021

As thousands of Honduran migrants make their way to the U.S. border, the incoming Biden administration, just days from taking office, has a message: Don’t come now.

President-elect Joe Biden has promised an end to the strict immigration policies of the Trump administration, which focused on building a border wall and restricting eligibility for asylum.

But those promises may be put to the test in the new government’s first days. If would-be emigrants from Central America perceive that now is the time to travel to the U.S., the southern border could quickly be overwhelmed before systems are put in place to handle the influx.

A senior Biden transition team official said the perception that the Biden administration will be able to allow all arriving asylum seekers to enter the U.S. to make their claim on day one is false.

“The situation at the border isn’t going to be transformed overnight,” the transition official told NBC News in an exclusive interview.


An estimated 9,000 Honduran migrants are fleeing food-scarce regions devastated by two hurricanes, drought and economic hardship. On Friday night, about 2,000 members of the caravan pushed past Guatemalan authorities and entered Guatemala without showing documentation or negative COVID screenings, the Associated Press reported. The caravan may arrive at the U.S. border in the coming weeks.


Prior to the recent caravan, there were already tens of thousands of migrants who had been stopped at the U.S. border by the Trump administration and told to wait in Mexico until their court dates to present their asylum cases. {snip}

The senior Biden transition official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said those who have been waiting at the border, along with other vulnerable populations, will be a priority for processing and entry, rather than those who have recently arrived.

The official said migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. to claim asylum in the first few weeks of the new administration “need to understand they’re not going to be able to come into the United States immediately.”

The official also emphasized that any immigration legislation proposed by the Biden administration will be for undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S., not those who are considering arriving now.


“There’s help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey,” the official said.