AGUA CALIENTE, Honduras – The Honduran caravan continued northwards on Thursday after thousands of people set out the day before from the northern city of San Pedro Sula in hopes of reaching the United States.
“We are going with our family to the United States. We can’t live here because there’s no work,” a woman who preferred not to identify herself told EFE, while she lined up with her two children at the customs house in Agua Caliente, on the Guatemalan border.
She said they arrived at midnight in the nearby city of Ocotepeque and waited in line on Thursday so they could “leave the country legally.”
The woman was one of around 500 people who lined up at 6 am to go through Honduran and Guatemalan migration procedures, both offices being located in the same building.
On this occasion, most of the migrants were young men and women including children ranging from newborns to teenagers. In other migrant caravans that set out in October 2018 there were many elderly people, including some in wheelchairs.
A Honduran immigration official who spoke on condition of anonymity told EFE that at 8 am some 400 people had filed their exit documents and as many as 1,200 had done so on Wednesday.
To leave the country, people 21 and over need only their official identification cards, but minors need their passports.
While the customs officer was speaking to EFE, an immigrant approached for help, because the immigration registry had denied his daughter permission to leave, even though she was accompanied by her mother.
“She is our daughter, she is 18. She has her identification card and is traveling with us. We are her parents, and they won’t let her go,” said the immigrant.
The immigration officer said, “If your daughter is a minor, she needs a passport. Even if she is traveling with her parents, only adults can leave with an identity card. I’m sorry. I can’t help you.”
After an initial migrant caravan was organized in October 2018, Honduran authorities launched a campaign to warn would-be undocumented migrants of the dangers they could face at the hands of criminal gangs and people smugglers.
Migrants also are told that the US will not grant them asylum and that it is not true that they will be allowed entry if they are accompanied by minors.
Large-scale migration from Honduras is a phenomenon that dates back many years. According to human rights organizations, roughly 100-150 people leave the poor, crime-racked Central American country every day in a bid to reach the US.
Caravans began to be used late last year to provide security in numbers.
But many migrants who set off in caravans either in October or January were unable to reach their destination and were sent back to their homelands via bus or plane.