Specter of Texas deaths haunts new migrant caravan in Mexico
By Juan Manuel Blanco
Tapachula, Mexico, Jul 1 (EFE).- The deaths this week of 53 undocumented immigrants after spending hours trapped inside an overheated tractor-trailer in Texas were very much on the minds of the nearly 4,000 migrants who set out Friday from this city on the Guatemalan border with the aim of reaching the United States.
The new caravan, mainly comprising people from Central America and Venezuela, left Tapachula before dawn for Huixtla, some 52 km (32 mi) up the road, where they plan to ask for transit visas and transportation for the northbound journey.
The migrants are anxious to avoid the fate of the Mexicans and Central Americans who died in San Antonio, Texas.
Daniel Veo, a Venezuelan, said that the migrants should not try to reach the northern border on foot or by hitching rides.
“We are asking that they remain in organized groups because we’re in a country that is not ours,” he told Efe, stressing the need to “maintain good behavior to be able to continue to the destination, which is the United States.”
This latest caravan is the third-largest of 2022 to leave Tapachula.
The Mexican government has been criticized for a militarized response to the migration crisis, but the National Guard units deployed Friday at the immigration checkpoint in Viva Mexico limited themselves to watching as the migrants walked by them chanting “Yes We Could, Yes We Could.”
The group likewise passed unmolested through the second checkpoint, in Huehuetan.
Irma de Jesus Torre, who arrived in Tapachula 18 months ago from Venezuela, told Efe about an earlier attempt to head north that ended with her being detained by Mexico’s INM immigration agency.
On Tuesday, migrants in Tapachula gathered for a prayer vigil in memory of the victims in Texas.
The tragedy in San Antonio reminded many in Tapachula of a truck crash last December near the Guatemalan border that left nearly 60 migrants dead.
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, the INM processed 77,626 people, an increase of 89 percent over the same period last year. EFE