Tapachula, Mexico – Stepped-up surveillance on Mexico’s southern border has not halted the stream of migrants, mainly from Central America, who have chosen to travel north by secondary routes in search of their American dream.
After four years during which migrants had ceased to travel on the freight train known as “the Beast,” hundreds of women, men and children are riding it once more, with migrants waiting day and night for its departure.
Others have chosen to skirt the Pacific coast or hike through the hills, risking capture by human traffickers.
The traffickers transport them in shabby old trucks racing along mountainous routes where they might get in crashes like those that occurred recently, and then be left to their own devices.
According to the National Migration Institute (INM), 20,596 foreigners applied for humanitarian visas on Mexico’s southern border during the month of April, of whom 14,970 were returned to their countries of origin. These included Haitians, Cubans and Central Americans who did not fulfill the requirements.
Meanwhile undocumented individuals have escaped from the migration centers where they were being held, as occurred in two incidents recently, one in Tapachula and the other at Comitan in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, where hundreds of Cubans and Central Americans fled the installations in a mad scramble.
Many Cubans have accused the INM of violating human rights and that in the Tapachula facility the living conditions are unbearable.
At the same time, overpopulation makes these centers unhealthy, medical attention is insufficient, and there are constant outbreaks of violence.
The latest escape from the Tapachula center occurred this Sunday before dawn, when, according to the INM, a group of Cubans “promoted a non-authorized exit from the installations.”
“Institute personnel avoided the confrontation and acted prudently. In that incident, 90 people left the migrant center without authorization,” the institute stated, adding that “minor damages were inflicted on the building and the INM is bringing the corresponding criminal charges.”
Following the escapes, the INM is continuing search operations plus the strengthening of security inside and outside the facilities.
In view of the deportation of their compatriots, some Cubans who have been stranded for some four months on the border are seeking asylum in Mexico, fearing they will be put on trial if they return home.
Meanwhile, social organizations like Voces Mesoamericanas have recommended that the government change its migration strategy so as not to repeat the old ways of favoring persecution and criminalization of people in need of protection.
In a statement they expressed “a profound rejection” of that approach and demanded an end to “the strategy of cataloging the ‘uncontrolled streams of migrants’ as the main threat and risk to national security, because it is a generic, ambiguous and directly criminalizing charge against migrants and applicants for asylum.”
They argue that “this view contributes to the justification of authoritarian acts that can go so far as serious violations of human rights like torture and forced disappearance, while at the same time arousing xenophobic feelings and actions by society.