SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (AP) — A few hundred Honduran migrants set out for the Guatemalan border before dawn Tuesday in hopes of eventually reaching the United States — though all other recent caravans have been broken up far short of that goal.
Young men and women, as well as families toting small children, walked along a busy six-lane road heading out of San Pedro Sula. They strung out into small groups with many hitching rides toward the border crossing at Corinto.
Calls to form a new migrant caravan had circulated for days, but the turnout was smaller than one that formed January. That caravan, which grew to a few thousand migrants, was eventually dissolved by authorities in Guatemalan using tear gas and riot shields.
The Guatemalan and Mexican governments have taken a harder line against such caravans in recent times under pressure from the United States.
The large traveling groups, however, represent only a fraction of the regular daily migration flows, which typically go relatively unnoticed. Mexico last week began restricting crossings at its southern border to essential travel and stepped up operations to intercept migrants, especially families, in the south.
There has been hope among migrants that the administration of President Joe Biden would take a more compassionate view of them, but White House officials have tried for months to make it clear that the U.S. border is closed.
U.S. authorities are expelling immediately the majority of migrants who cross the southern border, though a high number of unaccompanied children, which the Biden administration has said it will not expel, have created logistical challenges.
In Central America, some have taken the situation as a sign that if they bring young children, their chances of being allowed to remain in the U.S. will be higher.
The Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have accounted for the majority of migrants arriving at the U.S. southern border in recent years. Gang violence and a lack of economic opportunities are the main reasons migrants give for leaving.
The economic situation in those countries has only grown more acute under pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic and two major hurricanes that raked the region in November.
The Biden administration has said it wants to spend $4 billion on development in those countries to address root causes of immigration.