In Honduras, US Efforts to Deter Migrants Add Danger, Costs

(All photos by Seth Berry)

This piece originally appeared in The Nation

San Pedro Sula, Honduras—Above a steaming hot floodplain at the edge of gang territory, a ragged group of tents lays sprawled beneath the highway.  

It’s been over six months since back-to-back hurricanes ravaged Honduras. But even now, people displaced by the floodwaters are still living here: over a dozen malnourished families in dark, humidtents in the cavernous space beneath the CA4 highway. Living conditions are less than idyllic: skeletal dogs prance around burning mounds of trash, while a constant flow of traffic echoes past on the bridge overhead. Facing a climate catastrophe that washed away their homes, an utter lack of employment, and unceasing violence from both the government and gangs, places like this encampment have become ground zero for undocumented migrants who’ve traveled to the US. But the Biden administration — selling its immigration policies as a departure from Trump’s cruel racism even as it seeks to stem migrant flows — has different plans in mind. 

“We’ve secured agreements for [these countries] to put more troops on their own border,” Tyler Moran, Biden’s special assistant to the President for immigration said on MSNBC on April 12, announcing plans to stop irregular migration by having the Honduran military, among others, deploy 1,500 troops to the country’s US-facing Guatemalan border. “Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala have all agreed to do this. That not only is going to prevent the traffickers, and the smugglers, and cartels that take advantage of the kids on their way here, but also to protect those children.”

However critics fear further militarization of the border will in fact produce the opposite effect. As long as structural violence forcing people to flee continues, migration out of Honduras won’t stop — but it will, they contend, become  far more dangerous.

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