A caravan of almost 8,000 migrants, who walked around 200 miles from Honduras into Guatemala last week have dissipated after they were met by security forces wielding batons and firing tear-gas.
Guatemalan forces put on dozens of buses to send the majority of the caravan back home to Honduras following a series of clashes over the last three days. But on Tuesday, small groups could be seen pushing on to Mexico, regardless of pressure from the security forces.
Many migrants are hopeful that the Biden administration will be more sympathetic than Donald Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy since 2018. President-elect Joe Biden has already announced he plans to reopen the asylum system and hopes to reunite families torn apart by Trump’s tough immigration policies.
Many of the migrants were driven by an increasingly desperate situation in Honduras, where the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and two Category 4 hurricanes in November have piled atop chronic poverty and gang violence.
Buses carrying dozens of migrants and police patrol vehicles carrying handfuls arrived sporadically through the morning at the Guatemala-Honduras border crossing of El Florido on Tuesday.
Mexican deputy foreign minister, Maximiliano Reyes, told news network Milenio that about 4,500 to 5,000 migrants had been removed from Guatemala and returned to Honduras. He said that close to 1,000 migrants had spread out across Guatemala and weighed their options despite the Mexican government’s determination to stop the caravan from filtering across its southern border.
Honduran migrant Andy Osorio accused Guatemalan security forces of purposely harming his countrymen.
‘It’s not fair that they treat us like dogs, like animals,’ he said.
Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas, met the Senate committee and said that the new administration U.S. asylum laws to undocumented immigrants.
However, he did not say how he would deal with the remnants of the caravan that departed by foot while other hitched rides from a bus terminal in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, last Thursday.
‘There is a commitment to follow our asylum laws, to enforce our asylum laws,’ Mayorkas said. ‘That means to provide humanitarian relief for those individuals who qualify for it. When people present themselves at our border we apply the laws of our nation to determine whether they qualify for relief under our humanitarian laws, or whether they don’t. If they do not qualify to remain in the United States, then they won’t.’
The returning migrants, including young children carried by their parents, were passed from Guatemalan border agents to their Honduran counterparts and then boarded buses that would take them back to their hometowns.
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