The News from Honduras: Smugglers Cash in by Spreading Word of Amnesty

By Jerry Kammer on June 17, 2014

The mass exodus of Hondurans to the U.S. border is being promoted by smugglers who are spreading the word that the United States is planning an amnesty for illegal immigrants, according to a Honduran government official.

The smugglers "are sweet talking the mothers and families with the idea that, with the immigration reform the [U.S.] government will carry out, the people will have the opportunity to enter the United States and receive a permit to live in the country," Aracelly Calderon of the Honduran Center for the Care of Returned Migrants told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

According to many news accounts, smugglers frequently collect $5,000 for each person they smuggle into the United States. And given the U.S. policy of releasing children and family units who have been detained by the Border Patrol, the smugglers are reaping a bonanza because successful delivery of their clients is effectively guaranteed.

Meanwhile, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez is demanding that the United States take action against the drug trafficking behind much of the violence that is driving Hondurans northward. Hernandez spoke in particular of the exodus of thousands of Honduran children, some of whom travel alone to the U.S. border in hopes of joining relatives in the United States. Those relatives, many of whom are illegal immigrants, frequently wire payment to the smugglers.

According to the Honduran newspaper La Tribuna, at least 3,000 Hondurans "are abandoning the country every month with the idea of reaching the United States because of the lack of work or the lack of safety in Honduras."

Meanwhile, another Honduran newspaper, El Heraldo, is reporting that President Orlando Hernandez says many the Hondurans streaming to the United States are "persons displaced by war" because they are fleeing the narco-violence. He described U.S. cooperation in dealing with the violence across Central America as "minimal".

"If we made a really effective joint effort, the children would not be leaving in the numbers that they are now leaving," he said, adding, "The United States must do more. There are groups [in the U.S] who think this is just Central America's problem."