More than a thousand migrants moved into Guatemala on Friday.
A migrant caravan moving from Honduras toward the U.S. border is calling on the incoming Biden administration to honor what it says are “commitments” to the migrants moving north, amid fears of a surge at the border once President-elect Joe Biden enters office.
More than 1,000 Honduran migrants moved into Guatemala on Friday without registering, The Associated Press reported. That is part of a larger caravan that left a Honduran city earlier in the day.
The outlet reported that they are hoping for a warmer reception when they reach the U.S. border. And a statement issued by migrant rights group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, on behalf of the caravan, said it expects the Biden administration to take action.
“We recognize the importance of the incoming Government of the United States having shown a strong commitment to migrants and asylum seekers. This presents an opportunity for the governments of Mexico and Central America to develop policies and a migration management that respect and promote the human rights of the population in mobility,” the statement said. ” We will advocate that the Biden government honors its commitments.”
Biden has promised to reverse many of Trump’s policies on border security and immigration. He has promised to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which keeps migrants in Mexico as they await their hearings. The Trump administration has said the program has helped end the pull factors that bring migrants north, but critics say it puts migrants at risk.
Biden has also promised a pathway to citizenship for those in the country illegally and a moratorium on deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The migrants’ group also pointed to promises to end the asylum cooperative agreements the administration made with Northern Triangle countries.
“A new United States Government is an opportunity to work with the Mexican Government. They should develop a cooperation plan with Central America and civil society organizations to address the causes of migration. It’s also an opportunity to increase regional cooperation regarding the persons in need of protection.”
The migrants’ group also demands that “illegal and inhuman programs” be dismantled. It cites Remain in Mexico, the United States’ Asylum Agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. It also wants the order removed that allows the U.S. to quickly deport migrants on public health grounds.
Biden officials, however, have been keen to send the message to migrants that it will not mean open borders overnight.
“Processing capacity at the border is not a light that you switch on and off,” incoming Biden adviser Susan Rice told Spanish wire service EFE. “Migrants and asylum seekers should not believe that the border will suddenly be fully open to process everyone on Day 1. It will not.”
“We’ll reopen asylum processing at the border safely, protecting public health, especially considering COVID-19,” she said. “This effort will begin immediately but it will take months to develop the capacity that we will need to reopen fully.”
It is unclear how far the migrants will get. Guatemalan and Mexican governments have indicated they intend to turn them back. But the caravans fuel fears that the new Biden immigration and asylum policies will fuel a surge at the border.
Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said on Saturday that the caravan could include more than 5,000 migrants. He blamed this on the tone from the incoming administration.
“We’re looking at two groups that are well over five thousand. And one of those groups have already gotten through the Guatemala border. They’re on their way to El Rancho, which is located centrally in Guatemala,” he said. “It’s coming. It’s already started, just as we predicted it would, with this rhetoric from the new administration regarding the border.”
President Trump warned this week that ending his policies and increasing incentives would lead to “a tidal wave of illegal immigration”. “A wave like you’ve never seen before”, and “that there were already signs of increased flows”, Trump said.
“They’re coming because they think that it’s a gravy train at the end,” he said. “It’s going to be a gravy train. Change the name from the caravans, to the “gravy train” because that’s what they’re looking for — looking for the gravy.”