Migrants lay siege to immigration office in Mexico
By Juan Manuel Blanco
Tapachula, Mexico, Jul 27 (EFE).- Elements within the caravan of some 4,000 migrants who spent two days camped outside an office of Mexico’s INM immigration agency in the southern town of Huixtla stormed the building on Wednesday.
Huixtla is some 40 km (25 mi) northwest of Tapachula, a city on the border with Guatemala that has become ground zero of the regional migration crisis.
Unhappy with the failure of INM officials to respond to their requests for transit visas that would allow them to cross Mexico en route to the United States, large groups of migrants forced their way into the building around mid-day.
They overcame a contingent of National Guard and once inside, they vandalized the premises and hurled rocks, chairs and pieces of metal fencing at the officers trying to expel them.
Three people were hurt in the melee.
Venezuelan migrant Jose Antonio Gutierrez told Efe that the group asked INM to “expedite the delivery of documents so we can travel to the northern border.”
Another migrant from Venezuela, Dany Maldonado, said that the transit visa he obtained from an INM office in Tapachula was subsequently seized and destroyed by police in northern Mexico, forcing him to return to the south and start over.
Prior to the disturbances, the INM was ushering people with appointments into the Huixtla office in groups of 50 to process their applications.
Members of the caravan told reporters they planned to remain at the Huixtla office until they received permits, while other migrants blocked the main coastal road in Chiapas state for a second straight day, snarling traffic.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) registered a record of more than 1.7 million illegal border crossings in the 2021 fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30.
Since the 2022 fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2021, the CBP says that more than 1 million migrants have been intercepted along the US’s southern border.
Mexico, for its part, says it deported more than 114,000 foreigners in 2021, the highest number in nearly 15 years, according to figures from the Migrant Policy Unit.
In the first quarter of 2022, Mexico’s INM migration agency processed 77,626 people, an increase of 89 percent over the same period last year. EFE