More than 1,000 Honduran migrants departed their homeland last week in hopes of reaching the United States in the near future and that, when they do, President-elect Joe Biden's administration will approach their plight with more compassion than the outgoing Trump administration.
The caravan — which is significantly smaller than the swarms of migrants that made headlines during the heart of President Donald Trump's administration — is seeking refuge after two powerful hurricanes brought incredible devastation to Honduras, a Central American country that is already economically struggling.
Bertha Méndez, a 25-year-old who told the Wall Street Journal that she "lost everything" in the hurricanes, said she expects the caravan to reach the U.S. before Inauguration Day.
"We have asked God to help us and we believe that the new U.S. government will let us in," she told the newspaper. "I travel with eight people and we all think that this is a good opportunity, because it is the only thing we have left after having lost everything in the floods."
Bernarda López, a 48-year-old mother of eight, told the Journal, "We lost what little we had. There is nothing more to do. We are going to walk, or whatever, until we get there."
Overall, border crossing have declined in 2020, due in part to the coronavirus pandemic and Trump's immigration policies. However, that has begun to change in recent months, the New York Times reported.
After a steep decline in border crossings through much of this year, interceptions of unauthorized migrants along the Arizona-Mexico border are climbing again: Detentions in October were up 30 percent over September, and the figure in coming months is expected be even higher, despite the biting cold in the Sonoran desert.
The rising numbers suggest that the Trump administration's expulsion policy, an emergency measure to halt spread of the coronavirus, is encouraging migrants to make repeated tries, in ever-more-remote locations, until they succeed in crossing the frontier undetected.
Fortunately for the migrants, there is hope. Biden, of course, has pledged to reverse Trump's deterrent policies, though the policy reversals likely won't be advertised
Still, Jose Luis Gonzalez, coordinator of the Guatemala Red Jesuita con Migrantes, told Bloomberg News that Biden's pledge has emboldened immigrants who are desperate for a better life.
"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," Gonzales explained. "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."