Roman Catholic bishops in Honduras have admitted that their country is in a "shocking" and "shameful" state, which has added to the thousands-strong caravan headed to the U.S. border.
"It's a shocking reality caused by the current situation in our country, which forces a multitude to leave what little it has, venturing without any certainty for the migration route to the United States, with the desire to reach the promised land, the 'American dream,' which allows them to solve their economic problems and improve their living conditions. For them and their families and, in many cases, to ensure the long-awaited physical security," the Episcopal Conference of Honduras told Fides News in a statement on Wednesday.
"It's the duty of the Honduran State to provide its citizens with the means to satisfy their basic needs, such as decent, stable and well-paid work, health, education and housing. When these conditions do not exist, people are forced to live in tragedy and many of them hope to undertake a path that leads to development and improvement, finding themselves in the shameful and painful need to leave their families, their friends, their community, their culture, their environment and their land," the bishops added, touching upon the economic crisis that has led thousands to illegally migrate through Mexico and head for the U.S., seeking asylum.
"We were deaf to the cries of their rights and blind to see that reality. The news of this caravan is the massive form of thousands of people, mostly young people, who go with the hope of obtaining sufficient resources to transform Honduras," they added.
U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that the caravan of up to 14,000 people won't be allowed to enter the country without going through the proper legal routes.
"To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally. Go back to your country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing," Trump declared on Twitter on Thursday.
Two anonymous administration officials further told USA Today that Trump is preparing to send 800 to 1,000 U.S. troops to defend the border and confront the migrant caravan. Such a move would add to the 2,100 National Guard soldiers Trump has already sent to the border, who are backing up Customs and Border Protection officials.
In a previous interview with The Christian Post, two U.S. residents from Guatemala and Honduras who entered the U.S. over 15 years ago on the train called "The Beast," said the increasing number of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. through Central America includes more than migrants from Latin America.
"People from all over the world travel to Guatemala hoping to get to the U.S. through Mexico — people from China, Brazil, even Cuba, everywhere," they told CP in 2014.
"The U.S. must secure the border," they added at the time.
Speaking about the dangers children face from drug cartels and sex traffickers, they said: "When parents send their children on trains to the U.S. they know there are risks, but they don't think about it. They're just living off of hope — hope that all of the bad things they hear about won't happen to their children." Many immigrants take the dangerous trek to the U.S. because they're told that "when they get to U.S. they'll be given papers and allowed to stay in the country," they added.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, urged the White House to seek a third-party agreement with Mexico, which would require migrants to seek asylum in the first country of arrival, namely Mexico.
"Entering into a safe third country agreement with Mexico would send a message to our partners across Central America that they, too, must share the burden of unsanctioned mass migration," the senators said in a joint statement.
Reports of the caravan have provoked various reactions from prominent Christian figures in the U.S.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said that the migrant wave is an attempted "invasion" of the country.
"America is great because immigrants helped make it great but what's brewing at the border is NOT immigration — it's an invasion! @realDonaldTrump cannot allow people to overrun the borders," Huckabee tweeted.
The Rev. Tony Suarez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said that there should be sympathy for the migrants.
"There's nothing wrong or illegal with people approaching our border & applying for asylum. That doesn't mean we have to receive everyone that comes but they certainly can apply," Suarez argued.
"If it's wrong to seek asylum, remove this plaque from the Statue of Liberty 'Give me your tired your poor your HUDDLED MASSES yearning to breathe free the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these the homeless tempest-tossed to me I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'" he added, referring to a plaque that was added to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903, nearly two decades after the statue was unveiled.