Migrant camps in Mexico overflowing as large caravan moves north

Posted Apr 17, 2019 by Karen Graham
More than 5,000 migrants left Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico Tuesday morning to begin the long journey through Mexico to the United States. Amid pressure from the Trump Administration, Mexico is leaving hundreds of migrants stranded in unsanitary camps.
Honduran migrants gather in the north of the country at the begining of their march to the United St...
Honduran migrants gather in the north of the country at the begining of their march to the United States
The caravan includes an estimated 3,000 migrants that crossed over the Suchiate river at the Rodolfo Robles international bridge between Tecún Umán, Guatemala, and Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas on Friday, April 12.
According to the National Human Rights Commission, there are currently about 7,200 migrants in Chiapas, and another 1,600 are waiting to enter Mexico on the Rodolfo Robles bridge, reports Mexico News Daily.
Many people will remember that when Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in December, he promised more humane treatment of migrants, with the government granting thousands of humanitarian visas in January, giving migrants legal access to jobs and the right to travel to the United States.
On January 21, Mexico's National Migration Institute (INM) registered almost 5,000 Central American migrants over a period of four days. This humanitarian visa program was part of what Mexico called its new open-door immigration policy.
But following strong criticism from the Trump administration, and being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of migrants escaping poverty and gang violence in their countries, Mexico seems to have backed off on its open-door policy, even though Federal Police stationed at some migration checkpoints make no attempt to stop or detain the migrants.
Lopez Obrador’s government has said it will not react to “threats" by the U.S. government, But Reuters is reporting that sources familiar with Mexican policy, who asked not to be identified, said near-daily U.S. government pressure has forced government officials to push the INM for tougher action.
Hundreds of migrants were directed to a sun-baked sports complex in Chiapas, where temporary quarters were provided while the crowd was being processed for permits that will facilitate their travel north to the U.S. border. They are still there, sweltering under 38 degrees Celsius heat (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
Many are now without water or medical attention and young children and babies are suffering the worst. Over a dozen humanitarian and human rights groups operating in the area are calling the buildup of migrants stranded in Chiapas a “humanitarian crisis,” adding that the misinformation or no information on visas was confusing to people.
“The government is responding with practices and repressive methods similar to the previous administration in terms of control and deportation, but in a way that’s even more disorderly,” said Salva Lacruz, a coordinator at Fray Matias de Cordova, a migrant group that operates in Chiapas. “In some ways, it’s worse.”
INM closed its registration offices in Tapachula, but a detention center at the site remains open. The detention center is housing 1,700 people, double its capacity. Reuters was told that migrants are not being detained, but being held for processing, even though human rights groups say the migrants are not allowed to leave.
Indefinite detention for asylum seekers
With all the hoopla over Attorney General Barr's soon to be released Mueller report, many in the news media have overlooked what the A.G. has managed to slip through in favor of Trump's immigration policy.
On Tuesday, Barr struck down a decision that had allowed some asylum seekers to ask for bond in front of an immigration judge. This means many migrants seeking asylum will be subjected to indefinite detention forcing them to wait months or years for their cases to be heard.
Barr’s decision applies to migrants who cross illegally into the United States. Migrants presenting themselves at points of entry seeking asylum are not eligible for bond.
“I conclude that such aliens remain ineligible for bond, whether they are arriving at the border or are apprehended in the United States,” Barr wrote.