Honduran Caravan Arrives to U.S. Border
The caravan of thousands of Honduran migrants, which left Honduras over a month ago and travelled across Guatemala and Mexico, is now arriving at the United States border.
The first members of the caravan arrived in Tijuana roughly two weeks ago. Now, there are upwards of 7000 individuals in the Mexican cities of Tijuana and Mexicali.
Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum of Tijuana, Mexico declared a humanitarian crisis in Tijuana due to the massive influx of migrants into the city, stating, “[The Mexican Federal Government] has categorically omitted and not complied with their legal obligations. So now we are asking them and international humanitarian aid groups to bring in and carry out humanitarian assistance.”
On Sunday, the United States government closed off the San Ysidro border crossing, the largest port of entry between Mexico and the United States with approximately 100,000 daily visitors.
Director Duncan Wood of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center commented on the economic effects of closing such a large port of entry like San Ysidro, stating it “involves losses of many millions of dollars and severe disruption of commerce and life at the border.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen gave a statement, explaining that the border crossing port of entry was closed on Sunday to “ensure public safety in response to large numbers of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. illegally.” The statement read on to state that some of the migrants “sought to harm Customs and Border Protection personnel by throwing projectiles at them.”
A portion of caravan members began to protest the inefficiency of the asylum-seeking process. According to U.S.officials, the United States has the capacity to accept 100 asylum seekers per day. According to the asylum-seeking migrants, 80 individuals were allowed in on Friday, 40 on Saturday, and 40 on Sunday.
Alex Almendares, a 22-year-old member of the caravan from Colón, Honduras commented, “Desperation has led some people to really believe that crossing is possible. The U.S. has given us no response, and the situation at the shelter keeps getting worse.”
Protesters began marching peacefully and chanting, “We aren’t criminals! We are hard workers!” Several hundred migrants began to climb over the first barrier. As these migrants approached the second barrier, a spike-topped wall, U.S. officials began firing tear gas onto the migrants.
Governor-elect Gavin Newsom of California, tweeted in disapproval of the use of tear gas, “These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas. Women and children who left their lives behind – seeking peace and asylum – were met with violence and fear.”
President Donald Trump commented via Twitter, “Mexico should move the flag waving migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries.” President Trump added, “Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!”
It is unclear how the United States will proceed from here. There have been reports of a “Remain in Mexico” policy which would allow migrants to remain in Mexico until their individual case is dealt with in the United States. However, Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero of the incoming López Obrador administration of Mexico stated, “There is no agreement of any sort between the incoming Mexican government and the U.S. government.”
The future of these migrants remains uncertain.