Social Issues

Migrants, authorities play cat and mouse on Mexico’s southern border

Tapachula, Mexico, Sep 16 (EFE).- Haitian migrants with ambitions of reaching the United States find themselves going to greater lengths to avoid being intercepted by authorities before they can enter Mexican territory.

Undocumented travelers approaching the southern border from Guatemala have begun to make their way up the Suchiate River and then cross a wooden suspension bridge to the settlement of San Nicolas Lagartero.

For those who can afford the $20 fare, it’s a 10-minute cab ride to the Tapachula office of the Refugee Assistance Commission (COMAR), where migrants apply for permits that will allow them to remain in Mexico or transit the Aztec nation en route to the US.

The migrants who make it as far as the COMAR office can usually count on being met there by immigrants rights activists who will help them with the application process.

National Guard units and INM immigration agency personnel assigned to this stretch of the border have earned a reputation of being determined to stop migrants from stepping foot on Mexican soil.

Seeking to evade the Guard and the INM, most migrants make the attempt to cross during the overnight hours.

In an intensification of enforcement efforts, National Guard members are stopping taxis to check the documents of passengers. Any undocumented migrants are bundled into waiting INM vehicles.

While some of those apprehended may be held pending a hearing, many are deported summarily to Guatemala.

The last month has seen four separate caravans of Haitians, Venezuelans and Central Americans migrants head north from Tapachula with the aim of reaching the US border.

Each of the caravans was broken up by Mexican authorities.

On taking office in January, US President Joe Biden suspended predecessor Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, under which third-country nationals applying for asylum were required to await processing south of the border.

Though US courts have subsequently ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the program, news of the suspension spurred record numbers of migrants to make the dangerous journey across Mexico in pursuit of the “American Dream.”

In July, US authorities detained 212,672 undocumented migrants at the southern border, the highest one-month total in 20 years. EFE jmb/dr

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