Over the weekend, a new migrant caravan that had formed in Guatemala, with thousands hoping to make the long and dangerous journey north to the United States border, was halted by security forces before reaching the border with Honduras.
A statement from the Guatemalan president’s office said, “Guatemala’s message is loud and clear: These types of illegal mass movements will not be accepted, that’s why we are working together with the neighboring nations to address this as a regional issue.” According to BBC News, migrants were met with “truncheons and tear gas,” as “Thousands of people were intercepted on a road near the border with Honduras on Sunday.” An estimated 7,000 people are believed to have entered the country in recent days.
While the attitude of the outgoing Trump administration has aligned in recent years with other Central American governments regarding the mass movement of migrants across borders, President-elect Joe Biden has made it clear that his administration will look to reverse his predecessor’s course. Speaking with NBC News, a member of Biden’s team said “The situation at the border isn’t going to be transformed overnight. There’s help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey.”
“We have to provide a message that help and hope is on the way, but coming right now does not make sense for their own safety … while we put into place processes that they may be able to access in the future,” the official said.
The incoming Biden administration is being preemptively criticized for their soft stance on the issue of illegal immigration, following reports that “Biden will announce legislation his first day in office to provide a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the United States illegally,” and his “campaign promise to stop all deportations for 100 days.”
In addition, critics have pointed out that the sudden reemergence of migrant caravans corresponds precisely with Biden’s electoral victory, announcement of upcoming policies, and calls for those considering the journey to “wait.”
There are two primary factors which should concern both sides of the aisle regarding such forms of mass migration from Central America. The first is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Mark Morgan attempted to dissuade those considering or attempting the journey, saying that “The dangerous journey both puts you in harm’s way and endangers the lives and health of those in the US and regional countries through the potential spread of Covid-19.” Given Biden’s consistent promises to fight against the spread of the pandemic, enabling such mass movements of people in close proximity seems to counter such goals.
The second factor is the often ignored issue of the physical safety of the migrants. The route north towards the United States border is incredibly dangerous, with NBC News reporting in 2018 that “at least 4,000 migrants” had died or gone missing in the last four years.
“While migrants everywhere face risks, the Mexico route holds the added danger of drug trafficking and gang violence,” the report continues. “More than 37,000 people have gone missing throughout Mexico because of this violence, with the highest number in the border state of Tamaulipas, through which many migrants cross.”
With Biden’s administration openly signaling that United States border and illegal immigration policy is likely to change in 2021, it is highly probable that such dangerous attempts to travel north will continue for those desperate to escape poverty and violence. However, if Biden is truly concerned about COVID-19 or the safety of those making the journey, his policies are likely to achieve the opposite.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
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