By Juan Manuel Blanco
Tapachula, Mexico, Aug 4 (EFE).- Anxiety is vying with hope among migrants in this city on Mexico’s southern border a week after Washington endorsed Mexican plans for a combined shelter and processing center here to attend to third-country nationals trying to reach the United States.
The “international multipurpose space” in Tapachula will “offer new refugee and labor options for the most vulnerable people who are currently in Mexico,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement issued July 28.
Sullivan said the plan emerged from talks in Mexico between a US delegation and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
“We also commit to accept refugee resettlement referrals from qualified individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela who are already in Mexico,” he said.
Cuban migrant Dadier Hernandez Morfin told EFE that the announcement of the “legal pathways initiative” left him feeling optimistic.
“By way of that we could fulfill the goals, the dreams we have traced in life, so all the sacrifice is not in vain, because it helps us greatly to reach the United States with ease,” he said.
The new approach also promises to allow migrants to avoid “the risks of losing our lives, of being kidnapped, of being robbed on the road and tortured,” he added.
But activist Luis Rey Garcia Villagran, director of the Center for Human Dignity, describes the plan for the multipurpose space as yet another case of Mexico’s bowing to demands from the US.
“We believe that the immigration policy of the United States is domineering, they always want to impose,” he told EFE. “The only thing the (Mexican) federal government can do is give jobs to those who want to work.”
Another advocate for migrants, Rafael Alegria Lopez, said that establishing the new center should be priority because Tapachula has become a “migration prison.”
“The migratory flows that the city experiences now grow day-by-day,” he said. “Three-hundred, 400, 800, 2,000, 3,000 or 4,000 of various nationalities arrive, so there should be control from their entry into the country.”
He urged Lopez Obrador to follow through on his promise – reiterated this week – to provide the migrants with jobs.
During a visit Thursday to Tapachula, Foreign Secretary Alicia Barcena said that details about the multipurpose space remain to be worked out, adding that Mexico hopes to secure the collaboration of the United Nations to make the project a success.
Garcia Villagran, however, argued that concentrating the migrants in one location will have the effect of turning “the chicken coop over to the foxes,” making it easier for organized crime to prey on the migrants.