Sunday 21 July 2019

Migrant caravan winds towards the US

Eight months pregnant Mirza Rivera (C), 19, a migrant from Honduras, rests in a public park during her journey towards the United States, in Tapachula, Mexico. Photo: Reuters
Eight months pregnant Mirza Rivera (C), 19, a migrant from Honduras, rests in a public park during her journey towards the United States, in Tapachula, Mexico. Photo: Reuters

Hundreds of migrants, mostly from Honduras, entered southern Mexico this weekend, joining around 1,000 other people from Central America who crossed a day earlier and putting to the test Mexico's vows to guarantee the safe and orderly flow of people.

The cohort crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico before dawn without needing the wrist bands that officials gave migrants to wear until they could register with authorities.

"The road today was open," said Marco Antonio Cortez (37), a baker from Honduras travelling with his wife and children, ages 2 and 9. "They didn't give us bracelets or anything, they just let us pass through Mexico migration."

The migrant group proceeded on foot along a highway, accompanied by federal police officers, arriving at a shelter in the city of Tapachula around midday.

Sitting by the side of the road rubbing cream onto his children's feet, 40-year-old Honduran migrant Santos Pineda said he and his family entered Mexico easily, and without having to provide documents. The family's plan was to press on to the US.

Mexico's migration institute said the migrants can stay in temporary shelters in Mexico until they receive humanitarian visas allowing them to remain in the country, or they can wait in Guatemala for their document to be ready.

Groups of migrants left El Salvador and Honduras last week, the latest in a string of caravans of people largely fleeing poverty and violence. The caravans have inflamed debate over US immigration policy, with Donald Trump using the migrants to try to get backing to build a wall on the US-Mexican border. Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is pursuing a "humanitarian" approach, vowing to stem the flow by finding jobs for the migrants. In exchange, he wants Trump to help spur economic development in the region.

Meanwhile, last Friday a US federal judge found four volunteers from the No More Deaths group guilty of entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit, as they sought to place food and water in the Arizona desert to feed migrants. US Judge Bernardo Velasco's ruling marked the first conviction against humanitarian aid volunteers in a decade.

Sunday Independent

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