Thousands of migrants from Central America and Cuba are forming a caravan that is headed to the southern U.S. border after two hurricanes wreaked havoc on large portions of Central America last month.
Announcements for migrant caravans have been circulating on social media, according to the Miami Herald. Thousands of Cuban migrants, including pregnant women and children, are hoping to join groups of migrants traveling from Guyana, Paraguay and Chile.
Bloomberg reported that one group of migrants leaving San Pedro Sula, the second-largest city in Honduras, is scheduled to leave in the next few days with a second leaving in January.
Jose Luis Gonzalez, coordinator of the Guatemala Red Jesuita con Migrantes, said President-elect Joe Biden’s immigration policy changes and the transition to a new administration encourage impoverished Central Americans to risk the long journey to the U.S. Biden has vowed to reverse a number of President Donald Trump’s migration policies, including illegal immigration deterrents like prolonged detention and family separation.
“When there is a change in government in the U.S. or Mexico, caravans start to move because they are testing the waters to see how authorities respond,” said Jose Luis Gonzalez, coordinator of the Guatemala Red Jesuita con Migrantes, a non-governmental organization. “What they see is that the one who said he was going to build a wall and hated Latinos is on his way out.”
“There are going to be caravans, and in the coming weeks it will increase,” he added. “People are no longer scared of the coronavirus. They’re going hungry, they’ve lost everything, and some towns are still flooded.”
While the winner of the 2020 presidential election has yet to be officially determined, multiple media outlets declared Joe Biden the presumptive president-elect amid numerous legal challenges raised by President Donald Trump alleging voter fraud, suppression and illegal changes to the voting process.
If Biden takes office, his team is hoping to move away from President Trump’s immigration policies, acknowledging that the changes will prompt more attempts to journey to the United States, people close to the planning said ,according to Bloomberg.
“President-elect Joe Biden will restore order, dignity and fairness to our immigration system,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for Biden’s transition. “At its core, his immigration policy will be driven by the need to keep families together and end the disastrous policy of family separation.”
The Miami Herald reported that the Cuban government blamed the U.S. for the migration crisis, accusing Washington of provoking migrants when they reduced the number of immigrant and tourism visas issued annually.
Non-immigrant visas distributed to Cubans dropped from 16,335 in 2017 to 6,959 the following year. In 2019, the number of visas issued jumped slightly to 10,167. The Cuban Family Reunification Program was also suspended.