By Jose de Jesus Cortes
Oaxaca, Mexico, Dec 17 (EFE).- Thousands of undocumented migrants were headed north on foot Saturday after the closure of a satellite office of Mexico’s INM immigration agency where they hoped to obtain permits allowing them to cross the Aztec nation en route to the United States.
The INM shut down its temporary bureau in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Oaxaca state, leaving thousands of migrants few options other than to walk the nearly 100 km (60 mi) to the nearest permanent office, in Juchitan.
The journey under the subtropical sun is hot and pedestrians must dodge the triple-trailer trucks that haul cargo on the Panamerican highway.
Mirna Josel, a woman from Nicaragua traveling with a group of Ecuadorans, outlined the migrants’ dilemma for EFE.
“They (the INM) didn’t want to give us the permits, they told us not until January, and now we are moving in caravan to reach the destination we need to reach,” she said.
“It’s tiring, we’ve been walking two days, but thank God, while they haven’t given us the permits, we continue advancing,” Josel said.
Despite the challenges, families continue to make their way north and west with plans to travel on to Oaxaca city, the state capital, if they don’t obtain transit permits in Juchitan.
Back in Tapanatepec, meanwhile, migrants continue to stream in e even as those who arrived earlier dismantle their makeshift encampment outside the now-shuttered INM facility.
Pablo Sanchez, who left his wife and three children behind in Ecuador with plans to send for them once he found work in the US, now finds himself stuck in Mexico.
“There are no permits, they don’t tell us anything,” he said to EFE. “We just want to pass through, reach our destination, we don’t want to remain in Mexico.”
During the first 10 months of this year, Mexican authorities have detected 345,644 people “in an irregular migratory situation,” a jump of more than 32 percent from the same period in 2021.
Tapanatepec’s mayor, Humberto Parrazales, said that the INM closed the temporary center to prevent the town of 10,000 residents from being overwhelmed by migrants.
Last month, the municipal administration counted more than 16,000 migrants in San Pedro Tapanatepec.
The mayor said that migrants continue to come to the town, deceived by criminals who promise them transit permits in exchange for hundreds of dollars.
The region is experiencing a record flow of migrants trying to make their way to the US, whose Customs and Border Protection agency intercepted more than 2.76 million undocumented migrants in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2022. EFE jjc/dr