A caravan of over 1,300 people left yesterday from Honduras, beginning a journey to the United States where members of the caravan hope to seek asylum as refugees. The group was composed primarily of families, including many women carrying babies. The beginning of their journey was marked by the desperation which underlies their struggle for existence in their home country where life has become almost intolerable.
Recently officials in the United States have requested that the Honduras’ president take steps to stop mass migration from his country, but nothing has been done.
Large group crossings from Central America to the United States have defied U.S. President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration. But it has done little good to stem the flow of people fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. Fear of staying at home has outweighed their fear of either a perilous journey or the retribution from U.S. immigration officials.
Many of the travelers expressed optimism about their prospects.
“I believe we’ll get to the United States. There’s no work in Honduras, and you live in fear that they’re going to kill you or your children,” said Fanny Barahona, 35, an unemployed teacher who set out walking with her nine-year-old son and carrying her two-year-old daughter.
According to event organizer Bartolo Fuentes approximately 1,300 people are part of what he calls the “March of the Migrant.” He said they are planning to walk from San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras through the country of Guatemala and into Mexico. Once they get there he said they will request refugee status which would allow them to stay in Mexico. They also will request a visa allowing them to pass through Mexico to the U.S. border.
Last spring another caravan of migrants did the same thing and received a huge amount of attention from the news media. The publicity surrounding the immigrants’ difficulties led to President Trump implementing new tough border security measures. He also said that the migrants would not be allowed to enter the United States. People in the migrant caravan explained their actions by saying they were leaving because of death threats, extortion and violence from powerful street gangs in their home countries. According to published reports, over 64 percent of Honduran households live in poverty, and the country has one of the world’s highest murder rates.
“There is no work and so much violence that you can get killed walking down the street,” said Javier Solis, 25, who said he has not found work in a year and wants to enter the United States. On a previous attempt, he was deported to Honduras upon reaching Mexico.
Nobody knows what will happen to this latest group of traveling migrants. The Trump administration has put up a sign saying “No Admittance” to our country. Perhaps these intrepid travelers will prompt all of the countries involved to look for better solutions to the many problems facing them.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.