On November 21st, members of the Observation Mission of the Humanitarian Crisis of Migrants and Refugees in southeastern Mexico convened a press conference at the facilities of the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) in San Cristobal de Las Casas to report on the impacts of Mexico’s migration policy at the southern border.
They pointed out that “the asylum system in Mexico faces a growing collapse” because the immigration authorities fail to give a quick response to all applicants.
“The office of the Mexican Commission for Assistance to Refugees (COMAR in its Spanish acronym), based in Tapachula, has collapsed, which has caused migrants seeking asylum to have to stay longer in that place without work and in conditions of helplessness.”
According to Brenda Ochoa, director of the Fray Matias de Cordova Human Rights Center, immigration policy is a social criminalization policy. In Tapachula, migrants are subject to detention by the National Guard because they do not have the possibility of leaving the city. They reported abuse and arbitrary detention of both families and minors.
They also mentioned that while they were at the immigration station in Tapachula they experienced harassment from security agents who took the photos and names of members of the Mission.
Another aspect discussed at the press conference is the change in the profile of migrants due to the arrival of many people from several countries in Africa. Angeles Mariscal, also a member of the Mission, highlighted the vulnerability of around 1600 African migrants. “They had their passports confiscated, they have a hard time understanding Spanish,” said the journalist. He said his situation is much more difficult because “they had no way of communicating, they were not allowed to leave.”
The representatives of the Mission reported a very tense climate in the migratory station due on the one hand to temperatures of up to 40 degrees causing dehydration, and on the other, due to the lack of restroom and food services. Another aspect that plays a very harmful role in the context is the participation of media that send xenophobic, racist and discriminatory messages against the migrant population, for example accusing them of being carriers of diseases such as Ebola.
A woman from Nicaragua who was forced to flee her country because of political persecution also attended the press conference. She said that she arrived in Mexico on June 9th together with her husband and 15-year-old son and that she was detained at an immigration checkpoint in Tuxtla Gutierrez. Although COMAR approved her refuge request, she has not received a response to date. “We are unemployed, renting a house and my son without access to education. […], If you don’t have the conditions to house the migrants, don’t stop us and let us continue”, she also asked the Mexican government.
For more information in Spanish:
Sistema de asilo enfrenta colapso (Cuartopoder el 22 de noviembre de 2019)
Conferencia de prensa en vivo (Frayba el 21 de noviembre de 2019)
For more information from SIPAZ:
Chiapas: Autoridades migratorias frenan a caravana de migrantes en Tapachula (14 de octubre de 2019)
Chiapas: Migrantes africanos chocan con Guardia Nacional en Tapachula (4 de octubre de 2019)
Internacional/Nacional: El Alto Comisionado de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR) termina gira en México, mientras protestan migrantes africanos en Tapachula (1 de octubre de 2019)
Nacional/Internacional: CNDH solicita medidas a favor de personas migrantes (16 de abril de 2019)