Asylum requests in Mexico soar to record high at start of 2023

By Juan Manuel Blanco

Tapachula, Mexico, Apr 4 (EFE).- Requests for asylum in Mexico have surged nearly 30 percent thus far in 2023, with a record 37,606 submitted by undocumented migrants in the year’s first quarter.

More than half of those petitions were filed by migrants who arrived in Tapachula, a city located near Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala.

Michell Arriaga, a Honduran migrant who is traveling with her two young children, arrived in Tapachula six months ago and has grown frustrated with long delays in the processing of her asylum request by the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar).

A 23-year-old single mother, she is a native of Santa Rosa de Copan but fled that western Honduran city due to high crime and a lack of economic opportunities.

She traveled to Tapachula, a city in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas where she is currently living along with thousands of other United States-bound migrants from different parts of the world.

“You can say that Tapachula is a hub where all migrants come to seek refuge, and (the numbers) are increasing, I think, every day. I think it’s a place that has more migrants than (local Mexican) inhabitants,” Arriaga told Efe.

“Among those I’ve met, (there are) Ecuadorians, Colombians, Salvadorans, Hondurans, Haitians, and sometimes it’s terrible to see a situation like this, that’s growing larger, and seeing that Comar’s response is ineffective. Often, our processes drag on too long,” she added.

The surge in asylum requests in the first quarter of 2023 came after Mexico received 118,772 of these petitions last year, the second-highest total after the nearly 130,000 received in 2021.

But Comar thus far has only processed 7,369 of the 37,606 petitions filed in the year’s first three months, or less than one-fifth of the total. Sixty-eight percent of the requests were approved.

Lorenza Obdulia Reyes, director of the Todo Por Ellos shelter, said the migrants make appointments with Comar to file their petitions but must wait months for the resolution of their cases.

Reyes added that migrants who have filed their claim for refugee status with Comar and received a temporary humanitarian visa from the National Institute of Migration (INM) subsequently leave Tapachula.

But she said immigration agents in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz often will confiscate that document and return the migrants to that city near the border with Guatemala.

By country, the largest number of migrants granted refugee status hailed from Honduras, followed by those from Haiti, Venezuela, El Salvador and Cuba.

Claudio Jose Castro, a Venezuelan migrant who turned 60 while in Tapachula, is traveling with his young grandson. But they have not been able to advance beyond that southern border city because the minor has not yet been issued travel documents.

“It’s quite a big (problem) and the process takes a long time because people are always moving here trying to get north, to the United States. And we have to get to Tapachula, to Chiapas state, seeking a place of refuge and for them to solve our document problem,” he told Efe.

Mexico has seen an uptick in migrants in its border regions since the US announced new restrictive measures in recent months, including the immediate deportation to Mexico of migrants from Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba who set foot on American soil illegally.

The region has recently seen unprecedented migrant flows, with a record 2.76 million undocumented migrants apprehended at the US-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022, which ended last September. EFE


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