Honduras prepares for the return of thousands of its citizens amid the United States’ plan for mass deportations of Central American nationals.
Honduras’s Foreign Ministry has announced in a press statement that it has received official information from the U.S. government that Honduran nationals who have been issued a final deportation order will have to be deported reports AFP.
The Foreign Ministry said that it respected the United States’ immigration policy and expected the U.S. to comply with human rights standards.
Raid plans revealed
Last week, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal both reported that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had initiated plans for a number of raids aimed at deporting hundreds of Central American families who had recently arrived in the country.
The campaign is set to be carried out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, and could happen as early as January 2016.
According to The Washington Post, those familiar with the operation told the paper that if it goes ahead, it will be the first large-scale attempt to expel families fleeing violence in Central American countries.
Although both reports use anonymous sources, according to AFP, the Department of Homeland Security has not disputed the alleged plans.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not contest that there were plans to remove Central Americans living illegally in the U.S.
With the 2016 U.S. presidential elections looming, the issue of immigration is becoming increasingly contentious.
Violence and crime
The announcement of the plan also followed the approval by the United States Congress to allocate $750 million of its budget to Central America.
The $750 million aid package is viewed as a vital step in addressing immigration to the U.S. from Central America, especially from countries in the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) – Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Widespread Violence and gang-crime in the NTCA are the factors driving desperate families and children to flee their homes and seek sanctuary in the United States.
According to U.S. Border and Customs Protection statistics, from October 1 until November 30 of 2015, 10,588 unaccompanied minors were apprehended on the U.S.-Mexico border, a 106 percent increase from the same period during 2014 in which 5,129 children were detained.
The number of families apprehended has also increased by 173 percent. In 2014, during October and November, 4,577 families were detained compared to 12,505 in 2015.
Not every country, however, has been as agreeable as Honduras about the States’ mass deportation plan.
A “regrettable decision”
AFP reports that a top El Salvadorian official for migration issues has dubbed it as “regrettable”.
Liduvina Magarin, deputy minister for Salvadorans abroad, told AFP that El Salvador had been informed by the senior officials that the U.S. would begin deporting families and unaccompanied minors. “It is a regrettable decision by the U.S. government (that affects) our Salvadoran families,” she said.
On Tuesday, 29 December, Guatemala also expressed concern over U.S. government’s plan to deport undocumented Central American families.
According to Reuters, the Guatemalan foreign ministry said in a statement that it was “deeply worried” by the plan.