Mexico overhauls handling of migrants to release pressure

Migrants begin their walk north from the community of La Lima in southern Veracruz state, Mexico, early Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. The Mexican government has recently opted for a new strategy to relieve pressure on Tapachula, the city on its southern
Image Icon
The Associated PressMigrants begin their walk north from the community of La Lima in southern Veracruz state, Mexico, early Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. The Mexican government has recently opted for a new strategy to relieve pressure on Tapachula, the city on its southern border with Guatemala where tens of thousands of migrants accumulate, and to deactivate the caravans that have emerged in recent months: grant humanitarian visas and offer transfers to other states. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

TAPACHULA, Mexico — Benjamín Villalta, a 39-year-old Nicaraguan, couldn’t believe that a Mexican immigration office would open in the middle of the night to give him and some 40 other migrants one-year humanitarian visas allowing them to move about Mexico and work.

“They took our information and at most we waited half an hour,” said the excited Villalta. It was a radical change from his first contact with Mexican authorities in early November, who detained him and then dumped him at a remote border crossing with Guatemala. Undeterred, he caught up with a migrant caravan that had left Tapachula, spent three weeks walking with them and then took the government’s offer of a bus ride to another city and a humanitarian visa.

Such an option would have been a fantasy before and is now part of a major overhaul of how Mexico is handling migrants at its southern border. It came just days before the United States and Mexico announced Thursday a deal to re-implement under court order a Trump-era policy known as “Remain in Mexico” at Mexico’s northern border that forced asylum seekers to wait out their cases inside Mexico.

Both sets of policies seek to alleviate immigration pressures on the respective governments. In the south, Mexico is trying to relieve growing frustration among migrants the government has contained in Tapachula. “Remain in Mexico,” swiftly suspended by Joe Biden when he took office, was intended by the previous administration to deter asylum seekers by making them wait in Mexico’s dangerous northern border cities.

The dilemma of how to cope with the migrant caravans departing Tapachula pushed Mexico to find alternatives. After more than two years of a containment policy that kept migrants stuck in the south, far from the U.S. border, Tapachula — a sweltering city of some 350,000 — was overwhelmed with tens of thousands of recent migrants. They have been crowded in parks and plazas, many complaining they couldn’t find work.

The new plan is to move migrants to other states across Mexico and give them humanitarian visas to let them work legally for a year, according to the National Immigration Institute.

The effects of that policy change remain unclear, especially since many of the migrants still aspire to make it to the United States — but will now do so from cities closer to the U.S. border.

In recent days, some 3,000 people, mostly Haitians, have camped under trees and in the parking lot of Tapachula’s soccer stadium. They wait for buses that the Mexican government will use to ferry migrants to other cities and hope for the humanitarian visas, but don’t know where they’d go — or when the buses will arrive.

“I want to go to another city to look for work,” said Haitian migrant Edwine Varin, while she and her husband and son sought shade under a sheet at the stadium. “If I don’t work, how am I going to pay rent? How am I going to buy food, clothes for the kids?”

A Venezuelan migrant who would only give his name as Jeferson said that he had just arrived to Tapachula with his mother. “We were coming by on the bus because we were going to turn ourselves in to immigration and we saw all the people,” Jeferson said. An Associated Press journalist saw them board a government bus later that same day, though where it was headed was unclear.

With little information, migrants have attempted to organize themselves, but it’s not always successful. Some have blocked roads to demand the government send more buses. The immigration institute has not said how many migrants have been given the humanitarian visas or bused elsewhere.

As part of the deal to re-implement “Remain in Mexico,” the U.S. will vaccinate asylum seekers enrolled in the program and help pay for to efforts to shelter them in Mexico.

Mexico’s own asylum system has been swamped by requests as some migrants saw it as a more attainable alternative to the United States. This year, Mexico has received more than 123,000 applications for asylum compared to about 70,000 in 2019, according to government data released Wednesday.

The slow processing of asylum applications in Mexico’s overworked system combined with few job opportunities and limited housing frustrated migrants. Hundreds started walking out of Tapachula in caravans in August, the earliest of which were swiftly dissolved by Mexico security forces, sometimes violently.

Others left more discreetly. Almost without notice, several thousand Haitian migrants appeared at the border in Del Rio, Texas, in September.

Haitians have been the leading applicants for asylum in Mexico this year, accounting for more than 47,000 cases.

The number of migrants receiving the humanitarian visas could still be relatively small, but “it is a very significant change if compared with the confrontation the National Guard had with the caravans a few months ago and the severe experiences of control that faced migrants and asylum seekers,” said Tonatiuh Guillen, who led the immigration institute at the beginning of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration in late 2018 and early 2019.

Others were less optimistic. “It is an improvised reaction,” by immigration authorities, said Enrique Vidal Olascoaga, a lawyer for the Fray Matias de Cordova Center, a nongovernmental organization assisting migrants in Tapachula. “They have the people completely uninformed and they think they can move them like merchandise.”

The Rev. César Cañaveral, who leads migrant outreach efforts of the Roman Catholic Church in Tapachula, did not see it as a lasting solution. When the government gave similar visas at the beginning of 2019 after massive caravans, the migrants were shipped back to Tapachula when the visas expired and they were not renewed, he said.

Cases have also been reported this year of authorities detaining migrants despite valid permission to travel north and returning them to Tapachula.

Still the migrants receiving them this time are relieved.

A week after receiving his humanitarian visa, 28-year-old Honduran migrant Josue Madariaga was already working in a market in the northern city of Monterrey. “They told me that with my credential they accepted me with insurance and everything!” Madariaga said.

Many migrants, however, will keep their sights set on the United States.

Villalta, the Nicaraguan migrant, had made it into Veracruz state with the caravan before accepting the government’s offer to be bused to the north-central Mexico state of San Luis Potosi to get his visa. From there he quickly moved north to Monterrey with other migrants and then to the border with Arizona.

On Thursday, after hearing about the re-implementation of “Remain in Mexico,” Villalta made his attempt at the border. He called his mother, then walked into U.S. territory. When he saw the Border Patrol, he knelt and raised his hands above his head.

He said he hoped that documents certifying that he was politically persecuted by the government of Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega and a victim of torture would help him win asylum in the U.S. before they started returning asylum seekers to Mexico again.

———

Márquez reported from Los Algodones, Mexico, and Verza from Mexico City.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

The best men's and women's winter running gloves

At RW, we’re of the opinion that you can usually get by without a wooly hat and running tights. But the item you don’t want to be without is a ... Read more »

New documentary by Andrew Neil will explore Boris Johnson’s ‘leadership in crisis’

Andrew Neil will front a documentary exploring Boris Johnson’s “political fight” in what the broadcaster has called “the biggest leadership in crisis in three decades”. The programme – titled Boris ... Read more »

Kanye West and Julia Fox make red carpet debut

Kanye West and Julia Fox have cemented their budding romance by making their relationship red carpet official. The couple made their debut this weekend at Paris Men’s Fashion Week as ... Read more »

Melissa McCarthy dons a brown floral midi dress as she goes shopping

Melissa McCarthy cut a stylish figure as she stepped out in Los Angeles on Sunday for a shopping spree at interiors chain, HomeGoods. The actress, 51, looked ever-chic in a ... Read more »

De La Rue shares tumble 30% after it warns on profits as higher costs and staff absences hit output at banknote printer

De La Rue shares have tumbled almost 30 per cent this morning after the banknote and passport maker issued a profit warning and said its turnaround plan would be delayed ... Read more »

Thomas Tuchel faces £105m Chelsea dilemma despite answering Marina Granovskaia's transfer puzzle

At some point in your life, you’d have come across the infamous shape sorter game growing up as a child, which just so happens to be the perfect analogy for ... Read more »

Inheritance tax: Five ways to pay less tax to HMRC in 2022 and save up to £250,000

As many people get on top of their finances in January, people are being reminded that there are legal ways to reduce how much inheritance tax they need to pay ... Read more »

Babar, Root take ICC men's honours for 2021

© PA Images via Getty Images Babar Azam swings into a pull during his return to form at Edgbaston © PA Images via Getty Images Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain, ... Read more »

Heathrow and Gatwick: Latest travel restrictions for France, Spain, Italy and Greece

As the UK is set to be freed of all Plan B Covid restrictions, many will be pondering the idea of foreign travel again. Mask wearing and working from home ... Read more »

Want to invest in overseas market? Here are the taxation rules

© Provided by Business Today Want to invest in overseas market? Here are the taxation rules International investing has become popular as it not only gives geographic diversification but also ... Read more »

Gleicher Lohn für weniger Arbeit: Zürcher Spital führt 38-Stunden-Woche für Pflegende ein

Um zu verhindern, dass noch mehr Pflegende den Bettel hinschmeissen, wird das Spital in Wetzikon aktiv: Es schenkt den Angestellten mehr Freizeit. © Bereitgestellt von Blick Zürcher Spital führt 38-Stunden-Woche ... Read more »

Air India makeover begins: Airline to check cabin crew BMI & grooming when they report for flights

© Provided by The Times of India NEW DELHI: Preparing for a makeover as it heads back to founder Tata Group, Air India will now check the body mass index ... Read more »

Kaum jemand hat Winterreifen: Schnee führt zu Verkehrschaos in Griechenland

Starke Schneefälle haben am Montag vor allem in Mittel- und Südgriechenland für Probleme gesorgt. In vielen Regionen verschickte der griechische Zivilschutz Warn-SMS an die Bewohner und rief dazu auf, das ... Read more »

New age tech cos could fall 80-90% in 2022, says Big Bear Shankar Sharma

© Provided by CNBCTV18 New age tech companies—the darlings of fund managers and retail investors alike just a few months back—are bearing the brunt of the selling fury on Dalal ... Read more »

Blackmailed to spot-fix by 'Indian businessman': Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor makes sensational claim

© Provided by DNA Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor shocked one and all as he took to Twitter on Monday (January 27) and made a major revelation. In a lengthy ... Read more »

SC to hear plea challenging MHA's decision to cancel FCRA license of NGOs on January 25

The Supreme Court on Monday posted for hearing on January 25 on a plea challenging the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs by which it had cancelled or refused ... Read more »

Current real estate sentiment index score at an all-time high in Oct-Dec: Report

© Provided by Business Today Current real estate sentiment index score at an all-time high in Oct-Dec: Report Despite the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic, the Current Sentiment Index Score ... Read more »

Leonen: Bar examinees now allowed to use laptops for last-minute studying

Photo: SC PIO Bar examinees are now allowed to use their laptops for some last-minute studying, the Supreme Court announced Monday. In a bar bulletin, Associate Justice and Bar Exam ... Read more »

OCTA eyes possibility of Omicron wave ending by March

© Danny Pata A throng of people walks on Ylaya Street in Divisoria, Binondo, Manila to buy necessities on Sunday, August 29, 2021. Metro Manila will remain under modified enhanced community quarantine ... Read more »

‘Wearing that armor gave me a sense of power': Temuera Morrison on playing Boba Fett

© Provided by Firstpost ‘Wearing that armor gave me a sense of power’: Temuera Morrison on playing Boba Fett Jon Favreau’s newest venture into the Star Wars universe finds the ... Read more »

AMD’s Radeon RX 550 is being resold in Japan

© Provided by Dot Esports The current scarcity and exorbitant prices of new GPUs have led to older AMD Radeon RX 550 being rebranded and resold in Japan. These cards ... Read more »

COVID’s Turbo-Mutation Is Killing This Vax Dream, So What’s Next?

© Provided by The Daily Beast Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast Two months after scientists in South Africa alerted the world to the new, highly transmissible Omicron variant of ... Read more »

Anti-CAA protest: Delhi court frames sedition charge against Sharjeel Imam

A Delhi court on Monday framed charges under sedition against JNU student Sharjeel Imam in a case related to alleged inflammatory speeches made by him during the protests against the ... Read more »

Russia vs Ukraine news: UK REFUSES to rule out sending in troops amid fears of Russian invasion ‘that could spark WW3'

THE UK has REFUSED to rule out sending more troops to Ukraine as the threat of a Russian invasion of the Eastern European nation intensifies. Speaking hours after it was ... Read more »

The best Rainbow Six Extraction settings to increase FPS

© Provided by Dot Esports Before you begin the process of improving at any game, you should ensure that you’re playing under the most optimal conditions. While more casual players ... Read more »

Equations built giants like Google. Who’ll find the next billion-dollar bit of maths?

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images In 1998, a computer science PhD student called Larry Page submitted a patent for internet search based on an obscure piece ... Read more »

NATO says it's sending additional ships and fighter jets to eastern Europe amid Russia troop build-up near Ukraine

BRUSSELS — NATO says it’s sending additional ships and fighter jets to eastern Europe amid Russia troop build-up near Ukraine. Read more »

Chiyaan Vikram's 'Mahaan' to premiere digitally on Feb 10

© IANS Chiyaan Vikram’s ‘Mahaan’ to premiere on Prime Video on February 10. Chennai, Jan 24 (IANS) Director Karthik Subbaraj’s much-anticipated Tamil action-drama ‘Mahaan’, featuring Vikram and his son Dhruv ... Read more »

Suriya's Etharkkum Thunindhavan Release To Be Postponed, Makers Indicate

© Provided by News18 Actor Suriya’s upcoming film Etharkkum Thunindhavan is scheduled to hit theatres on February 4 in five languages. The makers have been actively promoting the film on ... Read more »

Pembalakan bagus untuk harimau, kata Jabatan Perhutanan Kelantan

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Pengarah Jabatan Perhutanan Kelantan Abdul Khalim Abu Samah berkata berdasarkan fakta kajian oleh pakar, kawasan selepas pembalakan sebenarnya bagus untuk populasi harimau. PETALING JAYA: ... Read more »

Sharjeel Imam to face sedition, UAPA charges in provocative speech case, orders Delhi court

© Provided by The Financial Express Imam was arrested on January 28, 2020 and will complete two years in jail this week in judicial custody. A Delhi court today ordered ... Read more »

Lea Michele reveals her son's face in first photo as she posts a birthday tribute for husband Zandy Reich

© Provided by Pinkvilla Lea Michele finally revealed her baby boy’s face on social media as she shared a post to wish her husband Zandy Reich on his 37th birthday. ... Read more »

P150 million worth of fake COVID-19 test kits, meds seized; warehouse owner arrested

Photo: BOC The Bureau of Customs on Monday said it seized P150 million worth of fake COVID-19 test kits, medicines, face masks, and branded items in a warehouse in Manila ... Read more »

Transparency fears as minister says Sue Gray ‘findings' will be published

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: James Manning/PA Only the “findings” of Sue Gray’s report into alleged lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street will be published, Nadhim Zahawi has said, in ... Read more »

Improper, says HC on Maharashtra govt letter to UPSC over names recommended for DGP post

The Bombay High Court on Monday said the Maharashtra government had acted in an improper manner when it sent a letter to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in November ... Read more »

Cruise ship diverts to the Bahamas after judge allows US to seize vessel over $4m in unpaid fuel

Crystal Symphony changed course after a federal judge in Florida issued an arrest warrant for the ship on Thursday as part of a lawsuit over $4.6m (£3.3m) in unpaid fuel. Read more »

Katie Price avoids having to appear in court over £7,350 fine

Katie Price avoided having to appear in court on Monday after a £7,300 fine she owed was paid. Price, who is serving a suspended sentence, was expected to stand before ... Read more »

Woman dies following house fire in Lambeth

© PA Archive Hilton fire A woman has died following a house fire in south London. The huge blaze tore through the first floor of the two-storey building on Railton ... Read more »

ED attaches assets of businessman in Tamil Nadu cheating case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday said it has attached assets worth Rs 69.14 crore of a Tamil Nadu-based businessman as part of a money laundering probe linked to an ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic