Hundreds of migrants in Honduras have formed a caravan and are heading north despite the pandemic, according to the Associated Press.

Government authorities have estimated that 900 migrants are on their way to Guatemala, which opened its borders two weeks ago. Many were wearing masks when they set off on Wednesday night, the AP reported.

A hot-button issue for U.S. and Mexican immigration policy in years past, large caravans made up of migrants who travel together for safety are facing new obstacles amid the pandemic. The shelters that typically house migrants as they travel through Mexico have been shut down, and the country has been aggressively deporting asylum seekers. The United States has similarly been returning many migrants to their home countries, and blocking people who show up at the border from seeking asylum.

Immigration authorities in Mexico said Wednesday that they would not do anything to encourage the caravan’s formation, while the U.S. Embassy in Honduras is warning that migration to the United States is more difficult and dangerous than ever before, according to the AP.

With both the United States and Mexico witnessing some of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks — and mired in recession — the number of Central American migrants trying to make their way north has largely slowed to a trickle. As most countries introduced lockdowns and shut down their borders, many experts even observed that traffic seemed to be flowing in the opposite direction, with migrants eager to return to their homelands. But economic conditions in Latin America have grown increasingly dire, with at least 34 million jobs in the region disappearing amid the pandemic, according to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization.

The Washington Post

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