Migrants on the transfer once more in Mexico and Central America

TENOSIQUE, Mexico (AP) – Within the first Mexican refuge reached by migrants after trekking by way of the Guatemalan jungle, some 150 migrants are sleeping in its dormitories and 150 extra are mendacity on skinny mattresses unfold throughout the ground of his chapel.

Simply six weeks after the beginning of the yr, the refuge often known as “Les 72” welcomed practically 1,500 migrants, up from 3,000 final yr. It has halved its dormitory area because of the pandemic. This was not an issue final yr as few migrants arrived, however this yr he has been overwhelmed.

“We have now an enormous circulate and there’s no capability,” stated Gabriel Romero, the priest who runs the refuge in Tenosique, a city within the southern state of Tabasco. “The state of affairs might get out of hand. We want a dialogue with all authorities earlier than this turns into chaos. Particularly, he would love the federal government to assist migrants who camp outdoors whereas they’re full.

Migrants from Latin America – from the Caribbean, South and Central America – are on the transfer once more. After a yr of pandemic-induced paralysis, individuals in day by day contact with migrants imagine the northward circulate might return to the excessive ranges seen in late 2018 and early 2019. The distinction is that this might happen for a pandemic.

Well being safety measures imposed to gradual the unfold of COVID-19, together with drastic discount in mattress area in shelters alongside the route, imply fewer protected areas for migrants in transit.

“The circulate is rising and the issue is that there’s much less capability than earlier than to fulfill their wants” due to the pandemic, stated Sergio Martin, head of the non-governmental support group Docs With out Borders in Mexico.

Some shelters stay closed by native well being authorities and nearly all have needed to scale back the variety of migrants they may also help. Functions for visas, asylum, or different official paperwork are being held up by the diminished potential of the federal government because of the pandemic to course of them.

“This isn’t a post-COVID migration; it is migration within the midst of the pandemic, which makes it all of the extra weak, ”stated Ruben Figueroa, an activist with the Mesoamerican Migrant Motion.

Some migrants expressed hope for a extra pleasant welcome from the brand new US administration or began transferring when some borders had been reopened. Others are being pushed by two main hurricanes that swept by way of Central America in November and desperation compounded by the financial impression of the pandemic.

Olga Rodríguez, 27, had been strolling for a month since leaving Honduras along with her husband and 4 youngsters, aged 3 to eight, after Hurricane Eta flooded the home of avenue distributors. They arrived in Mexico and utilized for asylum, however they stated it could take six months. Compelled to sleep on the street, they modified plans.

“The kids suffered from the chilly, we obtained moist and I advised my husband if we had been going to be within the chilly and the rain, higher to stroll,” she stated of Coatzacoalcos. Their goal now could be the US.

President Joe Biden’s administration has taken steps to roll again a few of former President Donald Trump’s hardest insurance policies, however a coverage stays permitting U.S. border officers to instantly kick nearly anybody out because of the pandemic . The U.S. authorities fears probably the most promising message will spark a border rush and says it would take time to implement new insurance policies.

The variety of individuals apprehended on the US-Mexico border in January was greater than double that of the identical month final yr and 20,000 above January 2019. This week, households had been seen crossing from Ciudad Juarez and switch to the border patrol within the hope of searching for asylum.

“Wait in your nation, or when you’re in Mexico, wait” till you are positive you may cross legally, lately stated Roberta Jacobson, the White Home’s prime border adviser.

Final week, the Biden administration introduced it could slowly start processing the roughly 25,000 asylum seekers who’ve been compelled to attend for his or her procedures in Mexico to be accomplished underneath Trump. It was to begin Friday at three border crossings.

Mexico has to date stated it would proceed to impose “orderly” migration, which in observe means making an attempt to comprise migrants within the south since Trump threatened tariffs on all Mexican imports in 2019.

On Tuesday, Mexico’s Nationwide Institute of Immigration stated in a press release that authorities had made 50 raids on freight prepare strains since January 25 in southern and central Mexico, detaining practically 1,200 migrants .

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lately warned migrants to not be fooled by traffickers who promise the US will open its doorways.

Isabel Chávez, one of many nuns working on the Palenque migrant shelter, about 100 kilometers from Tenosique, stated she needed to scale back the variety of days migrants keep to a most of two due to “the avalanche”. migrants who arrived in January. There are stated to be as many as 220 migrants there, up from 100 they might see earlier than the pandemic started in March 2020, she stated.

In Tapachula, the most important Mexican metropolis close to its border with Guatemala and residential to Mexico’s largest detention heart, there are additionally indicators of a rise. “There are extra individuals searching for refuge and the rise in migrants is clear within the public areas of town,” stated Enrique Vidal Olascoaga, lawyer for the non-governmental group Fray Matías de Córdova, which helps migrants of their authorized proceedings.

César Augusto Cañaveral, director of the Bon Pasteur refuge in Tapachula, lamented having to shut the doorways of the refuge after it was full on the finish of January.

“Now we’re bringing meals to the streets and a few sleep outdoors,” however this has involved neighbors on the shelter, who’re involved concerning the danger of COVID-19 infections. “It may be extra sophisticated than (the wave of migrants in) 2018, as a result of the icing on the cake is COVID-19,” he stated.

Now, greater than 1,300 kilometers to the south-east, some 1,500 migrants in varied camps in Panama plan to journey to Tapachula, both as a brief stopover en path to the US border or to start the asylum course of in Mexico.

Panama reopened its border on the finish of January and since then, teams have left the dense Darien jungle that divides Panama and Colombia. The federal government transported them to different camps nearer to the Costa Rican border to make room for the brand new arrivals.

Guatemalan immigration officers final week warned {that a} new caravan of migrants might kind within the coming days in Honduras. In January, Guatemalan authorities blocked the primary caravan of the yr, returning practically 5,000 Hondurans to their nation over a 10-day interval.

However as Guatemala targeted on the caravan, different migrants moved north, as all the time in small, inconspicuous teams. It was throughout final month’s caravan that shelters in southern Mexico started to see their numbers improve, principally Honduran migrants.

Small teams of migrants are extra weak to criminals who kidnap and extort them, activist Figueroa stated.

Essentially the most invisible are those that pay smugglers who cram them into trailers just like the one Mexican authorities arrested in Veracruz this week. Inside had been 233 migrants, principally from Guatemala.

On the finish of January, 19 our bodies, shot and burned, had been present in a van close to the border between Mexico and Texas. Most had been Guatemalan migrants. Round ten state cops had been arrested in reference to the case.

“We foresee a rise in violence,” stated Sergio Martin of Docs With out Borders, noting that regardless of the pandemic, migrants proceed to be pushed to maneuver illegally.

Simply down the border from the place the our bodies had been discovered, Reverend Francisco Gallardo, director of the Matamoros migrant shelter, stated he lately organized for 2 pregnant girls to present beginning within the Mexican city.

“Two households with two eight-month-old pregnant girls simply crossed the river” in the US, he stated, referring to the Rio Grande that separates the 2 nations. “They already had their ferryman and determined to danger him.”

Again in southern Mexico, migrant Edilberto Aguilar continued to stroll. “It is a chain,” the 33-year-old Honduran stated. “At some point we arrive and tomorrow others arrive. It by no means ends.


PA writers Juan Zamorano in Panama Metropolis and Sonia Pérez D. in Guatemala Metropolis contributed to this report.

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