A migrant caravan traveling from Honduras to the U.S. border is demanding the new Biden administration to uphold what it claims is “commitments” to migrants moving north, in fear of a border influx as President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
More than 1,000 Honduran migrants moved to Guatemala on Friday without registration, The Associated Press reported. It’s part of a larger caravan that left Honduran town earlier in the day.
The outlet reported that when they reach the U.S. border, they hope for a warmer reception, and a statement issued on behalf of the caravan by migrant rights group Pueblo Sin Fronteras said it expects the Biden administration to take action
“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,” the statement said. ” We will advocate that the Biden government honors its commitments.”
New migrant caravan looking to make the ‘deadly journey’
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is top of mind for several Central American governments as the caravan began its long journey. On Wednesday night, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei called for a “state of prevention” along the border with Honduras, noting “the threat of migrants entering without required documentation and without following pandemic-related screening at the border,” and that “more than 2,000 national police and soldiers would be stationed at the border.” The country will also require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before allowing entry.
In Mexico, the country’s National Immigration Institute “posted videos showing hundreds of agents and National Guard members drilling on the southern border. It said the agents are ‘keeping vigilant in the states of southern Mexico … to enforce the immigration law.’”
Biden’s commitments on immigration policies
Biden has pledged to reverse many of Trump’s border security and immigration policies. He has pledged to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which, as they await their hearings, will keep migrants in Mexico. The Trump administration said the program helped put an end to the pull factors that take migrants north, but critics say it is cruel and puts migrants at risk.
Biden also promised a path to citizenship for those illegally in the country and a moratorium on immigration and customs enforcement deportations (ICE). The group of migrants also pointed to promises to end the administration’s asylum cooperative agreements made with the countries of the Northern Triangle.
A new United States Government is an opportunity to work with the Mexican Government to develop a cooperation plan with Central America to address the causes of migration, together with civil society organizations, as well as an opportunity to increase regional cooperation regarding the persons in need of protection, and to dismantle illegal and inhuman programs such as Remain in Mexico, the United States’ Asylum Cooperation Agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as the Title 42 expulsions by the United States authorities,” it said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) order that allows the U.S. to quickly remove migrants on public health grounds.
“Processing capacity at the border is not like a light that you can just switch on and off,” incoming Biden domestic policy adviser Susan Rice told Spanish wire service EFE. “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,” she said. “This effort will begin immediately but it will take months to develop the capacity that we will need to reopen fully.”
How far the migrants will get is unclear, and the governments of Guatemala and Mexico have indicated that they intend to turn them back. But the caravan comes amid fears that the Biden administration’s new outlook on immigration and asylum will fuel a surge at the border.
CBP blames Biden administration
Acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan said on “Fox & Friends” on Saturday that the caravan could include more than 5,000 migrants and blamed the tone from the incoming administration.
“We’re looking at two groups that are well over five thousand. And one of those groups have already gotten through the Guatemala border. And they’re on their way to El Rancho, which is about the located centrally in Guatemala,” he said. “It’s coming. It’s already started, just as we promised and anticipated it would with this rhetoric from the new administration on the border.”
This week, President Trump warned that ending his policies and increasing incentives would lead to “a tidal wave of illegal immigration, a wave like you’ve never seen before” and that signs of increased flows were already appearing.
“They’re coming because they think that it’s a gravy train at the end,” he said. “It’s going to be a gravy train. Change the name from the caravans, which I think we came up with, to the gravy train because that’s what they’re looking for — looking for the gravy.”
Biden plans immediate and overwhelming action on immigration
“On Thursday, Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, policy advisers and three Latino Cabinet nominees met with advocates to outline the president-elect’s immigration, coronavirus and economic agendas,” wrote Politico reporters Laura Barrón-López and Sabrina Rodriguez.
Apparently, Biden intends to act both through executive orders and to pursue legislative action by pushing the Democratic-controlled House and the Senate. An eventual amnesty is on the table for up to 11 million people illegally living in the country.
The Los Angeles Times wrote on Twitter the planned reforms “would be the most sweeping and comprehensive immigration package since President Reagan’s in 1986.”
Those who attended the meeting indicated that millions of illegal immigrants could be offered permanent resident status for eight years. Biden will also use executive action on a four-year DACA extension, according to the report.