Immigrant caravans in southern Mexico demand a corridor to the border

Tapachula, Mexico (AP) —Estimated 2,000 migrants left this southern Mexican city on Friday. They said they were not interested in visas and allowed the government to disband other caravans and instead call for buses to the US border.

The latest group coincides with a US-sponsored hemispherical leaders summit just two weeks after the larger group left Tapachula. Approximately 7,000 of these migrants were issued temporary documents and transit visas, allowing them to board the bus and travel north of Mexico.

Documents usually give immigrants more than a month to normalize their status in Mexico or leave the country.

The Mexican government has been using the issuance of such documents since October last year to regularly relieve pressure from rising immigrant numbers in the South. However, instead of traveling to other states to normalize their position in less crowded areas than tapachula, immigrants used documents to travel to the US border.

However, migrants walking on Friday said authorities in other parts of Mexico did not respect those documents and many migrants were returned to the South.

“The march does not want a 30-day permit. The march does not want a humane visa,” said Jonathan Avila of Venezuela, one of the group’s self-appointed leaders. “We want organizations and governments to … set up a humanitarian corridor.”

He said they wanted a bus to bring them to the US border. “Visas don’t work,” he said. “They return us on a visa and break it.”

Authorities in some northern border states have blocked many of the immigrants who were issued documents after joining a larger caravan this month.Others traveling in small groups managed to cross the border into the United States.

Last week, Hector Martinez Castuela, a senior official at the National Institute of Immigration in Mexico, said at a press conference in the border city of Piedras Negras that the intent of the temporary document was to allow immigrants to legalize their position in Mexico. Said that it was not a trip. He said immigrants to the United States were said the same, but many still decided to go to the United States.

At the first highway checkpoint on the outskirts of Tapachula on Friday, authorities monitored migrants passing through without intervention.

Frustrated migrants have long been dissatisfied with Mexico’s strategy to contain them in southern Mexico, where employment opportunities are scarce. The Mexican government basically leaves only a way to apply for immigrant asylum, and many are unqualified, overwhelming the capabilities of the system and creating delays.

“(Waiting) is too expensive,” said Janet Rodas of Colombia, who is traveling with her Venezuelan partner and baby. She said migrants spend days crossing tapachulas among detention centers, asylum agencies, and other offices. Detours make it difficult to work or eat for people staying in shelters.

Many immigrants are in debt for their trips and are under pressure to go to the United States where they can find a job and start paying back.

Carlos Guzmán of Honduras participated in the caravan with his wife and five children. They were given the first appointment with an asylum office in September.

“The time they gave us for the promise was too long,” he said. “That’s why we decided to walk.”

A non-governmental organization that visited Mexico’s border with Guatemala this week said it had observed abuse by authorities.

Melissa Vertis, a working group on immigration policy, said that Mexico’s National Guard must cease to act as an immigration authority, and immigrants are not limited to the South, but have a position in other parts of Mexico. He said he should be allowed to pursue normalization.

Mexico’s Senator Emilio Alvarez Ikaza, who accompanied the organization, warned that the situation in the South was a time bomb that could create violence.

“There is no awareness of the humanitarian crisis that the Southern Border is experiencing. There is no dimensional sense of what is happening here,” he said.

Caravans have been formed in recent years as immigrants who seek innumerable safety and cannot afford to pay smugglers. However, they represent only a small part of the normal migration flow through Mexico that occurs primarily invisible.

The days of walking in the heat and rain of the tropics quickly cost caravan participants. Authorities may move to detain exhausted participants, but recently the government is trying to avoid potential conflicts and instead issue temporary documents to dissolve the caravan.

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