In an unprecedented decision, the Mexican immigration authorities have offered to extend transit visas to those who need them.
HAVANA TIMES – A migrant caravan of some thousands of people from 20 countries left southern Mexico on June 6, among them a number of Nicaraguans. The group is now hoping to leave the State of Chiapas with their documents in hand, then cross Mexico and continue their path towards the United States.
Meanwhile, US leaders are currently engaged in efforts to arrive at an accord regarding immigration at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles which concludes today..
As of June 8th, the caravan was encamped in the Mexican city of Huixtla, 42 kilometers from Tapachula, near the border separating Mexico from Guatemala. There, they were attempting to obtain the documents allowing them to legally cross Mexico, either the so-called multiple immigration forms or humanitarian visas.
The Multiple Immigration Form normally allows foreigners to remain and move within Mexico for a period of 186 days.
Thousands of foreigners have descended on the Huixtla immigration office, some five kilometers from where the caravan is camped. They travel there on foot, in taxis or by public transportation.
In an extraordinary decision, the authorities of Mexico’s Migration Institute have offered to extend the permits to all foreigners who need them.
Some already leaving with documents in hand
Venezuelan Jose Cruz, who left with the caravan on Monday, June 6, was one of the thousands who recently learned that the Mexican immigration authorities had agreed to issue the needed documents. He went into the city and waited three hours to receive his transit permits, good for thirty days of free movement through the country.
“I’m advising everyone to go get their papers; last night I spoke with those in the immigration office, and they gave me this document to circulate within Mexico,” he explained happily.
Up until June 8th, the Mexican authorities had dispatched over 2,100 documents. For the moment, they’re reviewing those who meet the criteria of the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees for receiving humanitarian visas.
Another Venezuelan migrant, Heydi Mar, has traveled to Mexico despite her pregnancy. She faced difficult weather in Chiapas, until she succeeded in reaching Huixtla, despite the risks such movement posed for her pregnancy.
She now feels desperate, she told EFE reporters. She’s facing a great deal of uncertainty, in addition to the physical limitations of her pregnancy: “We don’t have money for food, I’m four months pregnant, my feet aren’t up to this anymore, and I have no energy.”
At 36, she’s traveling with her husband and her brother-in-law, and is unsure whether she can obtain the document that will allow her to cross Mexico and reach the US border,
Another case is that of her fellow Venezuelan Paola Rizquez, who is traveling with a group and also says that her trip “has been very difficult,” and in addition she’s had complications getting a visa in Mexico.
“We’re worried about the prospect of continuing on foot, with the resulting fatigue and exhaustion, and that the authorities may not issue the large number of visas needed to advance,” Rizquez stated.
Others depart June 9
Meanwhile, another group of migrants who are staying in the center of Huixtla declared that they hoped to resume their march in caravan on June 9, headed towards the town of Villa Comatitlan to look for other Mexican immigration offices as the feel that that in Huixtla has collapsed under the surge in damand.
Activist Luis Rey Garcia Villagran, who directs the Center for Human Dignity [Centro de Dignificacion Humana] and is accompanying the caravan, noted that more than 5000 migrants planned to leave this day, with or without visas and board the buses that will take them the northern border between Mexico and the US.
In an assembly with the caravan participants, they agreed to leave. However, an important part of the caravan opted to remain in Huixtla to solicit their permits.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was questioned for deploying members of the army in the border to monitor the caravans and the migratory mobilization. The Mexican leader called the troop movements part of “normal” movements.
Waves of migrants break records
The caravan reflects the record flood of migrants towards the United States. The US Customs and Border Protection intercepted over 1.7 million undocumented immigrants along the southern border in the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2021.
The first weekend in June, the Mexican government reported an 89% increase in the number of migrants who had applied or been processed by the Mexican immigration authorities. Total numbers were reported as 77,626 in the first trimester of 2022, from January to March.
Mexico deported over 114,000 foreigners in 2021, according to data from the Immigration Policy Team, a number that hadn’t been seen for nearly 15 years. In the fiscal year that began October 1, 2021, the Team has counted over a million migrants intercepted on the US southern border.