Thursday, January 21, 2021

Caravan of migrants leaves Honduras for the United States amid renewed repression | Latin America

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The caravan comes after Hurricanes Eta and Iota pounded Central America, killing dozens and destroying hundreds of homes.

A few hundred Hondurans formed a caravan to the United States on Wednesday after hurricanes hit the country, posing a new challenge to efforts to stem immigration of Central America at the dawn of a new American administration.

Most of the young migrants with backpacks and women carrying children left the northern town of San Pedro Sula on foot for the Guatemalan border after calls on social media to organize a caravan to the United States.

Hitting just two weeks apart in November, hurricanes And and Iota destroyed infrastructure, homes and crops, killing around 100 people in Honduras. The neighboring countries of Guatemala and Nicaragua also suffered significant damage.

Hondurans pray before taking part in a new caravan of migrants leaving for the United States in San Pedro Sula, Honduras [Yoseph Amaya/Reuters]

“We have lost everything, we have no choice but to go to the United States,” an unidentified middle-aged man told Honduran television in the trailer with his wife and cousin.

The man said he was from La Lima, a municipality on the southeastern edge of San Pedro Sula that was hit hard by flooding from Eta and Iota.

Guatemala’s immigration authorities have warned oncoming migrants that in order to enter the country they will need negative coronavirus tests and passports.

Central Americans had already started leaving their homes in the wake of the devastating hurricanes.

If the exodus escalates, it could become the first major trailer to hit the road since Joe Biden defeated US President Donald Trump in the presidential election last month.

President-elect Joe Biden pledged to pursue a ‘humane’ migration policy and offer aid to Central America to ease migratory pressures [Yoseph Amaya/Reuters]

Trump, who is due to step down on Jan.20, has made tackling illegal immigration a top priority and has pressured Mexico to help. A caravan of thousands of people crossing Central America was dismantled in October.

President-elect Biden has vowed to pursue a “humane” migration policy and to offer aid to Central America to ease migratory pressures.

And as a last-minute immigration crackdown that new President Biden will likely attempt to reverse, the Trump administration on Thursday finalized a regulation that significantly restricts access to asylum in the United States.

The final rule cuts access to asylum for most migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border thanks to a series of changes to eligibility criteria, according to experts and lawyers. In addition, it orders immigration judges and asylum officers to reject broad types of asylum claims, such as those based on domestic violence and gang violence, with few exceptions.

The latest restrictions are expected to take effect on January 11, just nine days before Biden takes office [Jose Cabezas/Reuters]

It instructs asylum officers and judges to weigh negatively the claims of migrants who entered the United States illegally, used fraudulent documents, or passed through other countries without first seeking refuge elsewhere.

“This will better ensure that baseless claims do not delay or divert resources from deserving claims, and in particular, will better ensure the security of our country’s borders by facilitating the effective review of claims in a consistent manner. with the law and integrity of our immigration. The US Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Thursday.

The rule will “gut” migrant protections if it remains in place, said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy adviser to the US Immigration Council pro-immigrant, and “will put asylum out of reach for all but the lucky few. “.

“The rule is another Trump administration policy that will separate refugee families to punish them for seeking asylum in the United States,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First .

The latest restrictions are expected to take effect on January 11, just nine days before Biden takes office. Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding his stance on the measure.



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