In January of 2020, fleeing violence and poor economic conditions, Hondurans organized a massive migrant caravan that travelled through Guatemala into Mexico. After travelling for eight days, the caravan crossed the Suchiate River into Mexico; upon arriving, it was met by the recently established Guardia Nacional, composed of former Federal, Military and Naval Police.
Mexican President Andrés Manual López Obrador has historically called for safe passage for migrants, but when US President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs, Mexico reversed its policy and deployed soldiers to keep Central American migrants from entering Mexico.
The migrants attempting to enter Mexico split into two major groups: the largest group crossed the Suchiate River and was tear-gassed by the Guardia Nacional. Forced to retreat, they waited by the river’s edge for two days. Their second attempt across the river (at 4AM) was a success, but mere hours later the Guardia Nacional surrounded them, loaded them onto buses and sent them back to Honduras.
The smaller group amassed in the border town of El Ceibo in Guatemala and was met by Julio Cesar Sanchez Amaya, Head of Foreign Relations in Mexico. He welcomed migrants in groups of ten to enter Mexico and seek asylum. But after being kept briefly in detention centers, they were deported back to Honduras against Julio’s word, without being given the opportunity to seek asylum.
Trump has effectively barred asylum seekers from entering the US by threatening to impose tariffs and cut foreign aid to Central American countries. The human cost of Trump’s political agenda is denying people their fundamental human rights. For many asylum seekers, deportation will result in living a life of extortion, impoverishment and even death. The full effect of Trump’s xenophobic policies toward immigrants and asylum seekers will no doubt be felt for generations to come.