Stadium equipped to process refugee requests in southern Mexico

Mexico City, Sep 28 (EFE).- Mexican officials began processing the paperwork of hundreds of migrants stranded in the Mexican city of Tapachula, on the border with Guatemala, on Tuesday at the city’s Olympic Stadium, which has been equipped so that the Mexican Commission to Help Refugees (Comar) can handle their cases as quickly as possible.

According to the authorities, officials will process up to 2,000 migrants per day Monday through Friday for the next four weeks with the aim of avoiding jamming regular Comar offices elsewhere, where normally such cases are handled.

The Comar representative in Chiapas, Alma Delia Cruz, told the media that the operation was necessary because some 75 percent of the refugee requests filed in Mexico are made in this far southern region.

Atis Young, a Haitian migrant, said that on Tuesday he went to the stadium because he had tried on several previous occasions to obtain an appointment at a regular Comar office and could not do so.

“I look at the process as a good thing,” said Young, who is traveling northwards alone, evidently hoping to get to the United States.

At the Comar macro-center in the stadium a special protocol is in place to control the flow of migrants, with police organizations on the municipal, state and national levels as well as the Health Secretariat of Chiapas state participating in the operation.

At the stadium, entry was being controlled and a waiting area had been set up along with a documentation verification area where officials were examining refugee applicants’ paperwork.

Chenet, another Haitian migrant, came to the stadium with his family to get an appointment and complained that earlier he had been given a false document that had cost him about 6,000 pesos (roughly $300).

The Comar official emphasized that in recent weeks many migrants have traveled to northern Mexico, with thousands of them gathering in Ciudad Acuña, in Coahuila state, which borders on Texas.

Now, officials must determine whether the migrants gathering on the northern border traveled there from Chiapas, where Tapachula is located and then bring their refugee application procedures up to date.

Mexican law sets forth that migrants making refugee requests must do so where they enter Mexico and then wait in that region for their requests to be processed.

In addition, to prevent big jam-ups, only one member at a time from each migrant family group can enter the stadium – where dozens of officials, activists and NGO personnel are working – to go through the procedures for the rest of their relatives.

Cruz said that the process will be handled securely and will be well-regulated.

“There will be space for everyone,” he said, adding that he hoped that within two months officials will be able to make a substantial dent in resolving the many thousands of cases.

The immigration crisis in recent weeks has spread throughout Mexico with thousands of people stranded on the southern frontier and others moving north illegally to try and cross the border into the US.

Comar received a record 77,559 refugee requests – from people from 99 different countries – between January and August.

The region has been experiencing an unprecedented wave of migrants since the beginning of this year with an historic flow of 147,000 undocumented migrants detected in Mexico between January and August, triple the number for 2020, and a record of 212,000 migrants detained by US Customs and Border Protection personnel in July alone after illegally crossing the border.


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