By Sandra Sanchez
McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is traveling to Honduras this week to meet with the president over increasing migration from the Central American country, the agency announced.
Mayorkas on Tuesday is scheduled to meet with Honduran President Iris Xiomara Castro Sarmiento in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, DHS said.
The visit comes as a growing number of Hondurans cross the border from Mexico and try to claim asylum in the United States, according to new data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Mayorkas also is to meet with Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina, Minister of Security Ramon Sabillon, and security and law enforcement officials “to address ongoing migration challenges in the region,” the agency said Monday.
In addition, Mayorkas is to talk with United Nations agencies that provide support to migrants and vulnerable populations, including children.
The meeting comes after commitments made at the Summit of the Americas held in California last month.
And it comes at a time when thousands of migrants are arriving on the Southwest border, most from the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, which form what is called the Northern Triangle.
Encounters this fiscal year have already surpassed all of the last fiscal year with three months to go. CBP reports 2,002,604 migrant encounters since Oct. 1. Border authorities encountered 1,956,519 migrants in all of the Fiscal Year 2021, which ended Sept. 30.
In June, there were 207,416 migrant encounters on the Southwest border, CBP officials reported.
Law enforcement encountered over 22,000 migrants from Honduras in June on the Southwest border, most family units, according to CBP. This is the most Hondurans since the start of the fiscal year in October. The last time the numbers arriving from Honduras exceeded 22,000 was September 2021.
On the South Texas border, Border Patrol agents have told Border Report that they encounter Hondurans who want to claim asylum in the United States daily. Most are turned back due to Title 42 restrictions that still remain.
Title 42 is a public health directive that was implemented in March 2020 during the Trump administration to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and prevents asylum seekers from crossing from Mexico.
The Biden administration has discussed revoking Title 42 but many border leaders, such as those in the Rio Grande Valley, fear communities will be overwhelmed with asylum-seekers if the directive is lifted.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo, Texas, who is vice chair of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Committee, has repeatedly told Border Report of what he calls “the pull and push factors” that drive migration.
Push factors include unemployment, poverty, crime and gangs in a home country that lead migrants to leave their homelands in search of a better life. Pull factors are those that entice migrants to another border, such as the United States, Cuellar has said.
In 2021 the unemployment rate in Honduras rose to 8.5%, up almost 3% from 2019, according to the World Bank.
Nevertheless, economic reasons are not reason enough to claim asylum in the United States. And border law enforcement agents say they are sworn to prevent migrants from entering who do not meet the criteria to stay.
“We are committed to implementing our strategy of reducing irregular migration, dissuading migrants from undertaking the dangerous journey, and increasing enforcement efforts against human smuggling organizations,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said earlier this month after the release of June data.
To migrants considering making the journey, Magnus has this message: “You will be placed in removal proceedings from the United States if you cross the border without legal authorization and are unable to establish a legal basis to remain.”