A caravan of migrants in southern Mexico asks for a corridor to the border | Today Headlines

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TAPACHULA, Mexico (AP) — About 2,000 migrants left this southern Mexico City on Friday, saying they are not interested in visas and permits the government has issued in a bid to disband other caravans and instead calling buses for the US border.

The latest group comes just two weeks after an even larger group left Tapachula, coinciding with a hemispheric leaders’ summit hosted by the United States. Some 7,000 of these migrants received temporary documents and transit visas allowing them to board buses and continue north through Mexico.

The documents usually give migrants a month or more to regularize their status in Mexico or leave the country.

The Mexican government has used the issuance of such documents since last October to periodically reduce the pressure exerted by the increase in the number of migrants in the south. But instead of traveling to other states to normalize their status in less congested areas than Tapachula, the migrants used the documents to get to the US border.

But migrants marching on Friday said authorities in other parts of Mexico had not respected those documents and many migrants had been sent back south.

“The march does not want a 30-day permit. The march does not want a humanitarian visa,” said Venezuelan Jonathan Ávila, one of the self-proclaimed leaders of the group. “We want the organizations and the government (…) to set up a humanitarian corridor”.

He said they wanted buses to take them to the US border. “The visa doesn’t work,” he said. “With the visa they give back to us, they tear it up.”

Authorities in some northern border states blocked many migrants who received documents after joining the largest caravan this month. Others traveling in small groups managed to cross the border into the United States

Last week, Héctor Martínez Castuera, a senior official at Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, told a press conference in the border town of Piedras Negras that the intention of the temporary documents was that migrants legalize their status in Mexico – not travel to the United States He said migrants were told about it, but many decided to go to the United States nonetheless.

On Friday, at a first road checkpoint on the outskirts of Tapachula, the authorities watched the migrants pass without intervening.

Frustrated migrants have long complained about Mexico’s strategy of confining them to the south of the country, where there are fewer job opportunities. The Mexican government has essentially left only the asylum claim route for migrants, which many are not eligible for and which has exceeded the capacity of the system, creating delays.

“(The wait) is too much of an expense,” said Colombian Janet Rodas, traveling with her Venezuelan partner and a baby. She said migrants spent days criss-crossing Tapachula between the detention center, the asylum agency and other offices. The crowding makes it difficult for those staying in shelters to work or access meals.

Many migrants have travel debts and feel compelled to travel to the United States, where they can find work and start paying them off.

Carlos Guzmán from Honduras joined the caravan with his wife and five children. A first appointment with the asylum office had been given to them for the month of September.

“It’s too much time they gave us for the date,” he said. “That’s why we decided to walk.”

This week, nongovernmental organizations that traveled to Mexico’s border with Guatemala said they observed abuses by authorities.

Melissa Vertiz of the Immigration Policy Task Force, said the Mexican National Guard must stop working as immigration authorities and that migrants must be allowed to continue normalizing their status in other countries. other parts of Mexico, and not be confined to the south.

Mexican Senator Emilio Álvarez Icaza, who accompanied the organisations, warned that the situation in the south was a ticking time bomb that could generate violence.

“There is no awareness of the humanitarian crisis that crosses the southern border. There is no idea of ​​the scale of what is happening here,” he said.

The caravans have formed in recent years as migrants who sought safety in large numbers or who could not pay the smugglers regrouped. But they represent a fraction of the usual migration flow through Mexico that takes place largely out of sight.

Days of walking in tropical heat and rain quickly wear out caravan participants. Sometimes authorities decide to detain exhausted participants, but more recently the government has sought to avoid potential conflict and instead issued temporary documents to disband the caravans.

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