Days before Joe Biden is set to be sworn in as president, there are rumors about a new migrant caravan forming in Honduras and planning to head to the U.S.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a warning to migrants about the risks involved with the potentially dangerous journey as Guatemalan officials reportedly plan to deploy 4,000 soldiers to patrol their southern border amid rumors that some plan to begin the trip north before the end of the month.
“Control will be strengthened with the borders we share with Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador and on the area of adjacency with Belize,” Rubén Téllez, a Guatemalan military spokesman, told Reuters last week, according to CubaNet.org.
His government plans to deploy up to 4,000 soldiers and the Guatemalan air force will also be involved in efforts to stop the caravan, he noted. Only Hondurans with a valid passport and a negative coronavirus test will be allowed entry into Guatemala, its immigration authority announced Friday.
According to Honduran General Tito Livio Moreno, his country will also be deploying soldiers to stop the illegal border crossings into Guatemala.
According to Reuters:
Hondurans have taken to WhatsApp and Facebook groups, some of which have thousands of subscribers, to organize another caravan scheduled to leave from the country’s northern city San Pedro Sula on Jan. 15, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan issued “a clear and firm message” last week to the potential migrant caravan, the second one leaving Honduras since hurricanes Eta and Iota caused extensive damage in the region in 2020. A caravan that reached Guatemala in December was reportedly broken up before it could get to Mexico.
“Do not waste your time and money, and do not risk your safety and health. The dangerous journey both puts you in harm’s way and endangers the lives and health of those in the U.S. and regional countries through the potential spread of COVID-19,” Morgan said.
To migrants considering the caravan: Do not waste your time and money and do not risk your safety and health. The U.S. stands united with our partners in the region in our commitment to the rule of law & public health.
— CBP Mark Morgan (@CBPMarkMorgan) January 9, 2021
“The United States stands united with our partners in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, and the rest of the region in our commitment to the rule of law and public health,” Morgan added.
“This commitment is not affected by a change in administration in the United States,” he said, referring to the incoming Biden administration. “Migrant caravan groups will not be allowed to make their way north in violation of the sovereignty, standing public health orders, and immigration laws of the respective nations throughout the region.”
Morgan warned those seeking to take the risk that it is a “deadly journey,” noting that the U.S. Border Patrol “recovered more than 250 bodies along the U.S.-Mexico border last fiscal year.”
“We saw two deaths just last week, when smugglers abandoned dozens of migrants in a winter storm that dumped two feet of snow near Big Bend, Texas. These smugglers are reckless with human life – they do not care for the safety of migrants or law enforcement,” he continued.
“COVID-19 compounds the risk of their activities, not only to migrants but also to healthcare workers, frontline officers and agents, and to the communities that migrants pass through on their journey,” Morgan contended.
I am proud to stand in solidarity with friends and partners throughout the region who are committed to uphold the rule of law, manage safe, orderly, and legal migration, and prevent a humanitarian and health crisis,” he added, before emphasizing the warning again.
“Our message is clear – if you enter a country illegally or violate public health orders, you will face immediate action,” Morgan concluded, “including being returned home immediately, detained or prosecuted.”
Speaking with reporters last week, Morgan reportedly could not confirm that a group of migrants who tried to rush the Paso Del Norte Bridge from Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, last month were chanting “Biden! Biden!” according to The Washington Times which reported that the mob was reacting to a “false rumor” that they would be allowed to enter the U.S.
However, he did note that migrants have been telling Border Patrol agents that they were planning t take advantage of an expected loosening of immigration rules with the exit of President Donald Trump.
“Is the rhetoric and the discussion of the potential new strategies impacting the flow?” Morgan said.” Unequivocally, yes. That we are hearing directly from those trying to enter illegally.”