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article imageThousands of Honduran migrants U.S.—bound across Guatemala

By Karen Graham     Jan 16, 2021 in World
Thousands of Hondurans, including many families with children, walked together across Guatemala on Saturday hoping to reach the United States, fleeing poverty, violence, and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes.
The rush of immigrants from Honduras began in earnest on Thursday last week and by Friday, some 3,000 people left Honduras on foot in the latest migrant caravan hoping to find a welcome, and a better life, in President-elect Joe Biden's United States.
Many people, like Santos Demetrio Pineda, had left with nothing but the clothes on their backs, having lost everything after surviving two Category 4 hurricanes that hit Honduras in November.
“We lost everything in the hurricane,” said Pineda. “We can’t just sit around after what happened to us. We are going to leave the country, to ask for help wherever they receive us,” he said, per the Associated Press.
On Sunday, Reuters was reporting that close to 6,000 Honduran immigrants had reached Guatemala City, Guatemala since Friday, according to the spokeswoman for Guatemala’s immigration authority, Alejandra Mena.
Another 1,500 to 2,000 migrants forced their way across the Guatemalan border midday on Saturday, according to a Reuters witness, after confrontations with Guatemalan soldiers and immigration agents.
Travel restrictions abound
"I want to work for my house and a car, to work and live a dignified life with my family," said Melvin Fernandez, a taxi driver from the Caribbean port city of La Ceiba in Honduras, who set off on the long journey with his wife and three children, aged 10, 15 and 22.
Members of the latest caravan  pictured January 14  2021  are part of more than a dozen caravans to ...
Members of the latest caravan, pictured January 14, 2021, are part of more than a dozen caravans to have set off from Honduras since October 2018
Orlando SIERRA, AFP
Most of the immigrants want the security of a roof over their heads, work, and living in dignity, and the U.S. has always been a beacon for the oppressed and needy of the world, but in the midst of a global pandemic, the United States does not have the jobs available to put our own citizens to work - let alone feed the thousands of families needing food for their own children due to economic impacts from the virus.
And just getting through the borders of the Central American countries on the route to the U.S. border with Mexico is going to be extremely difficult. To enter Guatemala, the first country on their route, however, the migrants will have to show travel documents and a negative coronavirus test -- requirements that not all of them meet.
And earlier last week, the governments of Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico coordinated security and public health measures aimed at deterring mass unauthorized migration through the region. The three countries have deployed thousands of soldiers and riot police to block the migrants' passage.
But even then, no one can stop the spiraling crisis of hunger and homelessness in Honduras as their reason for joining. Their misery is made even worse by being unwelcome by their neighbors who are already economically stressed by the coronavirus pandemic.
A chance at life with Biden
President-elect Joe Biden has promised "a fair and humane immigration system" and pledged aid to tackle the root causes of poverty and violence that drive Central Americans to the United States.
But that promise does not mean the doors will be thrown open at the border on January 20. Mark Morgan, acting Commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection, warned the group last week not to "waste your time and money." Morgan pointed out in a statement that the US commitment to the "rule of law and public health" is not affected by the change in administration.
More about migrant caravans, Guatamala, Hondurans, Biden policy, Immigration
 
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