According to NBC news, a caravan of approximately 4,000 Honduran migrants are making their way through Guatemala towards Mexico and the United States. President Donald Trump has threatened to sever financial assistance to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala if they grant safe passage to the caravan. The President also threatened to use military force to shut down the US-Mexico border stating, “I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!” Under American pressure Mexico has dispatched hundreds of federal police officers to its southern borders.
As Hondurans continue to cross into Guatemala, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, David Hodge, arrived at Casa del Migrante to caution migrants from going further.
NBC news reported that while there in reference to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Hodge informed migrants that:
“President Trump’s message was clear — that anyone who enters the United States illegally will be arrested before being deported. The United States government is very aware of the security and prosperity problems in the countries of the Northern Triangle, but we are investing hundreds of millions of dollars every year to improve situations.”
Shutting down borders is the least effective solution when addressing migration. It will not impact migrants fleeing their country because they recognize their fates as being sealed in their own countries, and would risk everything to find a better life somewhere else. Thus, they are more likely to emigrate despite the issuance of aggressive messages from border security. The United States, most threatened by the arrival of the caravan, as well as the international community have a responsibility to address the high level of violence in Honduras and other Central American states. Since violence is a key deterrent of investment in a state, many Central American countries suffer high poverty rates. Lowering security can encourage businesses to come in and alleviate the population’s poverty. States need to cooperate when addressing the violence in Central America, instead of cutting ties.
Many of the migrants consist of children, women and the elderly. They flee Honduras because of the country’s deplorable conditions of rampant violence and high levels of poverty. According to the Human Rights Watch, a report submitted by UNICEF and the National Violence Observatory of the University of Honduras (UNAH), noted that the number of child homicides rose from 434 in 2014 to 570 in 2015. The Economist reported that Honduras was ranked third by Igarapé Institute – a Brazilian think-tank that published data on the most dangerous cities in the world. In addition to high crime rates, Honduras is entranced in perpetual improvement. In 2016, the World Bank reported that 66 percent of the population was living in poverty while “in rural areas, approximately one out of five Hondurans live in extreme poverty, or on less than US$1.90 per day.”
Protests and violence are key factors that push migrants to leave their country. The international community needs to recognize that migration cannot be stopped, and consequently pay attention to the factors that force migrants to leave.
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