BY: Maria Valencia
According to government statistics, about 30,000 migrants received humanitarian visas in April. This is more than three times the monthly average for the first three months of the year.
Based on government data, Mexico has allowed tens of thousands of people to pass through its territory en route to the U.S. border since early April. This represents a significant increase before the end of U.S. immigration policies that prevent most migrants from seeking asylum in the country.
The increase coincides with reports from local aid organizations and migrants that people traveling north from Guatemala, the main route to the United States, have entered Mexico more easily in recent weeks as Mexican security forces have abandoned some of their outposts on the country’s southern border.
As the Biden administration prepares to lift a pandemic-era restriction called Title 42 on Thursday night that has allowed the United States to quickly deport people trying to cross the border illegally, the increase in people allowed to cross the Mexican border and reduced security measures have likely contributed to a spike in the number of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Inquiries about possible changes in the government’s immigration policy were not answered by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the National Institute of Migration.
Local aid workers claimed that the expiration of health measures likely contributed to an increase in the number of migrants on Mexico’s southern border.
“We do not know if this is solely related to Title 42, but it is evident there are many more migrants here than normal,” said Miguel Barrera, a field coordinator at the International Rescue Committee in Tapachula, a city near Mexico’s southern border.
According to Mexico’s National Institute for Migration, in the state of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala, about 30,000 visas were issued to migrants for humanitarian reasons between April 2 and May 3. This is more than triple the monthly average for the first three months of the year.
The visas allow migrants to move around the country, pay for bus tickets and flights, and get to the border with the United States.
Many migrants, particularly from countries such as Haiti and Venezuela that are experiencing a humanitarian crisis, have long received these documents from the Mexican government.
However, local humanitarian organizations report that the number of visas issued by the government has increased dramatically in the last month. Migration authorities have instructed undocumented migrants to begin the visa process in a park on the outskirts of Tapachula instead of arresting them, as had previously been the norm.
“I saw two news stories online saying to come here for visas,” said Moroni Padilla, 42, from El Salvador. “Sometimes you don’t know if you can trust what you hear, but I had to come see for myself.”
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