Mexico News Daily, December 24, 2018
Another large migrant caravan is on its way to Mexico but unlike those that came before it, this one isn’t headed for the United States’ southern border, according to a migrants’ advocate
“A new caravan of 15,000 people has already left Honduras for Chiapas,” said Irma Garrido, a member of the migrant advocacy group Reactiva Tijuana Foundation.
“We assume that this caravan . . . will pick up more people in El Salvador and Guatemala. But their aim is to arrive in Chiapas and request work there” on the Maya Train project and the reforestation announced by President López Obrador.
The new president has pledged that Central Americans who want to work in Mexico will be given a work visa, while the governments of Mexico and the United States last week agreed to work together on a development plan in southern Mexico and Central America to curb migration.
Thousands of Central Americans have crossed Mexico’s southern border over the past two months as part of several caravans, with most continuing their journey towards the Mexico-United States border despite offers by the previous government of shelter, medical attention, schooling and jobs if they stayed in Chiapas or Oaxaca.
The largest cohort is currently in Tijuana, Baja California.
The massive arrival of Central Americans in the northern border city triggered an anti-migrant backlash that manifested in a large protest, a confrontation between residents and a group of migrants in the coastal Playas de Tijuana district and Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum – dubbed Tijuana’s Trump – declaring that the caravan members are not wanted.
Garrido said that news of the “strong xenophobia” in Tijuana against migrants has reached those currently heading to Chiapas, insinuating that it was a factor in their decision to remain in the southern state.
However, she said that some members of the new caravan would likely travel later to Mexico’s northern border and seek to enter the United States.
Those already there face a long wait to file asylum requests as the United States government has introduced a daily “metering” system that limits the number of asylum cases U.S. border authorities will hear.
Stranded on the border, an increasing number of migrants have crossed or attempted to cross the border illegally to turn themselves in to border patrol agents and circumvent the lengthy wait for an opportunity to apply for asylum.
But last week, United States authorities announced that migrants who enter the U.S. and seek asylum there will be returned to Mexico to await the outcome of their claims.
Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) responded that it would cooperate with the United States policy change, announcing that it would take back some non-Mexican migrants although it added that the right to reject or admit the entry of foreigners will be retained.
It is unclear how many migrants would be shipped back to Mexico but the head of the National Immigration Institute (INM) said his agency would not be able to receive them in the short term.
However, Foreign Affairs spokesman Roberto Velasco said the new rule would apply only to new asylum applicants and not those who have already entered the U.S.