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Mexico struggles to hold migrants far from U.S. border By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Central American migrants crossed the border to Guatemala and Mexico after being expelled from El Ceibo in Guatemala on August 15, 2021. Picture taken August 15, 2021. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

By Lizbeth Diaz

TAPACHULA, Mexico (Reuters) – A bid by Mexico to contain thousands of migrants on its southern border with Guatemala has created a major humanitarian headache for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and failed to prevent many from reaching the U.S. border en masse.

Desperate for work, fleeing poverty or violence, the Central Americans, Haitians and South Americans stuck in limbo in the southern city of Tapachula have staged protests and launched repeated attempts to break out in migrant caravans

    This month, some of them slipped past Mexican officials to join more than 10,000 migrants who crossed into Del Rio, Texas to form a sprawling new camp, reviving U.S. concerns about a huge spike in illegal immigration.

Due to the economic downturns caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, record numbers of migrants crossed Mexico in 2009. They were also drawn by U.S. President Joe Biden’s promise of more accommodating immigration policies.

Tapachula is home to thousands of migrants who are still trapped near Guatemala’s border. Many live in cramped and squalid situations.

Jairo Gonzalez from Nicaragua, 36, complained that Tapachula is like a prison. If you do not have enough money, there is no way you can help yourself.

Gonzalez claimed that he traveled to Mexico City via bus more than a month ago, after entering illegally and hoping to find a job in Mexico or the United States.

According to him, Mexican officials took Gonzalez into custody and sent him back to Tapachula. Gonzalez claimed that he had urged Mexican officials to return him, but they refused. Gonzalez now says that he has no money for the return trip.

Tapachula’s containment of migrants was not discussed by the National Migration Institute, which is part of government. To our requests, the foreign ministry didn’t respond.

Tapachula is home to some migrants who illegally entered Mexico while others seek asylum.

Human Rights Watch an international monitor, reported in August that while asylum seekers are technically allowed to travel within Tapachula’s homeland of Chiapas until the cases are settled, they were prevented from leaving the city by immigration checks.

Mexican security officers were captured on camera beating migrants who tried to leave Tapachula. This prompted criticism from Lopez Obrador and the U.N human rights offices.

Two immigrants were fired.

Washington has asked Mexico to control the flow of migrants, as they have more than doubled the amount who tried to cross U.S. Borders this year. In fact, over 200k were arrested in just a few months.

Mexico’s government claims that its containment measures aim to protect migrants rights and enforce the country’s laws.

Mexican officials believe that the majority of chaos is due to the demise of U.S. President Donald Trump’s asylum protections and the coronavirus epidemic.

COVID-19 emergency measures have led to summary expulsions of undocumented immigrants at the U.S. border into Mexico, which in turn encouraged them to attempt repeat crossings, they say.

Biden’s promise to enhance protections of migrants in the United States as well as to improve humanitarian conditions for asylum-seekers, provided additional incentives, they claim.

Requests for comment were not answered by the White House or U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The State Department did not respond to requests for comment.

The United States sent detained migrants to southern Mexico in an attempt to stop migration. Mexico is also moving detained migrants from the north to the south by plane.

Chiapas is now home to tens or thousands of migrants, as a result of these expulsions. Tapachula was home to as many as 40,000 migrants in a month. Discontent is growing among residents, according to a Mexican official.

Alejandro Diaz, local shopkeeper said that “this chaos will bring down Tapachula.” We worry about our own health and that of many (migrants). It’s impossible to drive around here and they use sidewalks every day.


Many of the visitors in the humid city of around 350,000 inhabitants have resorted to sleeping on the streets. Some others group together to share cheap accommodations.

In the last few weeks, several caravans headed towards the U.S. Border to end the standoff. Security forces stopped the caravans or dismantled them. However, many were able to make it through.

Lopez Obrador wants migrants to stay in south Mexico. Lopez Obrador believes that those who move north are at risk from criminal gangs.

Tapachula residents who are stranded say that they’ve tried to obtain asylum in Mexico or to cross the border to get there, but were turned down by bureaucrats.

Haitian Lutherson, 35, said that he doesn’t think he deserves to be forced into such a life. He has lived in the city for just two months. We didn’t arrive here to commit wrongdoing. My family deserves a bright future. But they aren’t helping me here.

Derisma displayed a message to his mobile phone, from Mexico’s Commission for Refugee Assistance. It stated that any appointments made at their local offices would need to be rescheduled, due in part, because of fraud, duplicate requests and errors.

COMAR is expecting a record number of applications in 2019, up from the previous high of 70,000. According to a spokesperson, the delay was due to high demand exceeding capacity.

Additional reporting by Dave Graham (NYSE); Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Alistair Bell