US-bound migrants in southern Mexico weigh their options

By Juan Manuel Blanco

Tapachula, Mexico, Jun 10 (EFE).- Five days after leaving this city on the Guatemalan border with the goal of reaching the United States, the roughly 15,000 migrants from a score of countries in the latest caravan are divided among those who trust Mexico’s promise to provide them with transit visas and others who want to press on with or without documents.

Mexico’s INM immigration agency says that it has issued more than 4,000 travel permits and a significant number of the migrants who received documents have already departed Chiapas state on public buses.

A substantial group made camp Friday in a park in Mapastepec, about 110 km (68 mi) northwest of Tapachula.

Addressing the migrants, activist Luis Garcia Villagran, director of the Center for Human Dignity, said that he and organizers of the caravan provided the head of the INM in Chiapas, Paola Lopez, with the names of at least 1,400 people in need of transit permits.

“You will receive justice, comrades, and by Sunday or Monday at the latest you will have your migration documents,” he told the assembled migrants.

Though exhausted and out of money, Salvadoran migrant Manuel Oscar Armando Tejada is hopeful that the promised visas will materialize.

“We expect to leave Monday for Oaxaca (the state north of Chiapas) and later reach the northern border of Mexico and then our destination, which is the United States,” he told Efe.

Two other segments of the caravan are awaiting visas in and around Huixtla, about 30 km from Tapachula, and other migrants were making their way Friday through Villa Comaltitlan and Escuintla en route to Mapastepec.

With authorities either unable or unwilling to assist, the only help the migrants are getting in Mapastepec is from the Catholic Church, which provides them with food and water.

This week’s caravan is the latest manifestation of the wave of migration to the US, whose Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency recorded a record total 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 deported more than 114,000 foreigners in 2021, the highest number in nearly 15 years, according to figures from the Migrant Policy Unit.

And last week, the Mexican government reported that the INM processed 77,626 migrants in the first quarter of this year, an 89 percent increase from the same period in 2021. EFE jmb/dr

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