Tapachula, Mexico, Jan 20 (EFE).- Some 500 migrants from Central America, Venezuela and Haiti held a demonstration Thursday in this city near the border with Guatemala to demand that Mexican authorities issue permits allowing them to cross the Aztec nation en route to the United States.
The group, which included many children, made their peacefully and at a leisurely pace down several streets in the first migrant protest of 2022 in Tapachula, for months a focal point of the region’s migratory crisis.
Participants said they are asking Mexico’s INM immigration agency to provide them with temporary documents so they can continue their northbound journey without fear of harassment by authorities.
Around a dozen INM agents and members of the National Guard kept a watchful eye on the migrants as they marched to the sound of chants such as “we want free transit” and “we want papers.”
The surge in northbound migration saw US immigration authorities detain more than 1.7 million undocumented people in the 2021 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.
During the first 10 months of 2021, Mexican authorities intercepted 252,000 migrants and deported upwards of 100,000, numbers not seen in more than 15 years. And as of Nov. 30, a record 123,000 migrants had requested asylum in Mexico, up from a maximum of 40,000 or so in previous years.
Mexico has been criticized for its treatment of the migrants and for deploying more than 28,000 military elements on its northern and southern borders.
Yet along with the stick of enforcement, the Mexican government has also offered some migrants carrots in the form of work permits and assistance finding employment. EFE jmb/dr