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Mexico Opens Its doors to Central American Migrants

Members of the so-called "caravan of the hungry", coming from Honduras, receive their humanitarian visitor
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Migration & Refugees

Members of the so-called “caravan of the hungry”, coming from Honduras, receive their humanitarian visitor’s cards on Jan. 22 within the border city of Tapachula, Chiapas state, which can permit them to stay and work in Mexico for a minimum of a yr, in what represents a radical change in the country’s migration policy. Credit score: Ángeles Mariscal/IPS

MEXICO CITY/TAPACHULA, Jan 24 2019 (IPS) – A number of months in the past, Candelario de JesúsChiquillo Cruz reached Mexico’s southern border and ran right into a fence strengthened with barbed wire, while a barrier of cops sprayed him with fuel. Immediately, he’s strolling freely over the bridge that crosses the Suchiate River, a pure border with Guatemala.

Chiquillo, a 50-year-old from El Salvador, doesn’t cover his pleasure on the welcome he has acquired in his new attempt to enter Mexico.

“It’s an opportunity that I have sought for a long time,” he informed IPS on Jan. 22, as he showed the document with the number 0000004155128 issued by the Mexican authorities’s Nationwide Migration Institute (INM) in Tapachula, a city in the southern state of Chiapas, on the border with Guatemala.

This doc can be exchanged in a number of days for a “humanitarian visitor card” that may permit him to stay and work in Mexico for a yr.

“I congratulate Mexico for the position it has taken, allowing us to legally enter the country without being persecuted as migrants. What we want is an opportunity to work,” he says.

Mexico’s immigration coverage has taken a 180-degree turn underneath the administration of leftist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took workplace on Dec. 1.

On Jan. 17, the government opened the border to hundreds of migrants coming in a caravan from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, fleeing violence, poverty and repression, and introduced that it will challenge humanitarian visas for the Central American migrants.

It also introduced a new labour plan that comes with Central American migrants into improvement tasks in the southeast of the nation.

The strategy runs counter to Mexico’s policy in recent times, which targeted on stiffening border safety and militarisingthe southern border to hold migrants out.

With the Southern Border Plan of Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, the conservative Enrique Peña Nieto, hundreds of individuals have been deported and dozens died after resorting to extra hazardous routes in the attempt to evade police controls.

The arrival of the new government coincided with an unprecedented immigration disaster that erupted in October. Since then, greater than 15,000 Central People began a collection of large caravans to reach america, crossing virtually three,900 kilometers of Mexican territory on their journey.

In the metropolis of Tapachula and different border cities in southern Mexico, employees from the UNHCR and IOM are accompanying the first stage of the implementation of the migration plan carried out by the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, which allows Central American migrants to stay within the nation on a one-year, renewable visa. Credit: Ángeles Mariscal/IPS

But this sixth caravan, the third to originate in Honduras since then, have discovered a new coverage that, within the words of INM commissioner Tonatiuh Guillén López, is aimed toward “generating a new paradigm for the treatment of the migrant population.”

It also goals, he stated, to give a lift to the joint improvement of the south of this country and the so-called Central American Northern Triangle, made up of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

On Jan. 18, when the primary visitor playing cards for humanitarian causes have been issued, Guillén defined that the plan has two elements: mobility, with the authorisation of the humanitarian visas, and the promotion of improvement in the area.

Meaning extending work permits to individuals from Honduras and El Salvador, like those Mexico already granted to migrants from Belize and Guatemala.

Representatives of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are accompanying the supply of the cards in the preliminary stage.

“The IOM is working in close coordination with government institutions, in particular the INM, to improve the conditions of migrants entering the country,” IOM consultant in Mexico Christopher Gascón advised IPS.

However it isn’t a easy drawback.

In accordance to knowledge from the Mexican authorities’s Refugee Help Fee (Comar), asylum purposes from Central People in Mexico climbed from three,424 in 2015 to 26,566 in 2018.

And now, in the first five days because the open door policy was established, 7,805 migrants – 6,431 adults and 1,374 youngsters and adolescents – have applied for Mexican safety.

Hundreds of migrants line up to apply for the card, which is for one yr but could be renewed for 3 extra, after which they have a chance of being granted a everlasting residence allow in Mexico.

The vast majority (just over 6,000) come from Honduras but there are also candidates from El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and some from Haiti, Brazil and Cuba.

The arm of a migrant, looking from a bridge over the waters of the Suchiate River, the natural border between Guatemala and Mexico, in the southern city of Tapachula, after obtaining the paper bracelet from the National Institute of Migration which will allow him to stay and work in Mexico for at least a year, as part of the government's new reception programme, which began on Jan. 17. Credit: Ángeles Mariscal/IPS

The arm of a migrant, wanting from a bridge over the waters of the Suchiate River, the pure border between Guatemala and Mexico, within the southern metropolis of Tapachula, after acquiring the paper bracelet from the Nationwide Institute of Migration which can permit him to keep and work in Mexico for at the very least a yr, as a part of the government’s new reception programme, which started on Jan. 17. Credit: Ángeles Mariscal/IPS

In December, while presenting the new National Migration Plan, in pressure until 2024, Secretary of the Inside Olga Sánchez Cordero careworn that Mexico is the first country to modify its migration policies to the brand new International Compact for Protected, Orderly and Common Migration, signed on the United Nations headquarters in New York on Dec. 19, after being agreed at a convention in Marrakech eight days earlier.

Nevertheless, the alerts despatched by the Mexican authorities are ambiguous with regard to some controversial points. And for some critics, the new reception policy truly represents an acceptance of turning Mexico into a “safe third country”, curbing migration to america – a demand reiterated by U.S. President Donald Trump.

In addition, the second element of the programme, the work facet, is linked to a U.S. funding challenge aimed toward boosting the financial improvement of southern Mexico and the nations of the Northern Triangle.

Overseas Secretary Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón announced on Dec. 19 that the U.S. government will invest 5.eight billion dollars for the financial improvement of that Central American region over the subsequent 5 years, plus another four.8 billion dollars in southeastern Mexico.

The Mexican authorities presents this investment as a type of Marshall Plan (which helped rebuild Europe within the post-WWII interval).

However skeptics see it as a new stab at a failed programme: the Plan Puebla-Panama that was tried by the right-wing government of Vicente Fox (2000-2006) and that may create a controversial free trade zone with the construction of vacationer cities in areas primarily populated by indigenous individuals, who haven’t been consulted.

In addition, the primary doubt concerning the investment plan lies in the degree of commitment of the Central American governments to the event aimed toward curbing migration.

That is compounded by distrust relating to the best way the Mexican authorities will use the info that it is gathering from the migrants participating within the programme, as a result of in order to receive a humanitarian customer’s card, they’re asked for an id document, a photograph and their full names, age, place of residence, fingerprints and an eye fixed scan.

This policy in principle must be a constructive improvement, especially considering the extent of vulnerability of migrants in Mexico to felony groups like gangs and cartels.

But some migration specialists and immigration rights activists see the info collection as a continuation of the Merida Initiative, a plan by numerous U.S. businesses to help Mexico to “strengthen both societies in the fight against organised crime and violence.”

The Initiative has involved an funding of 1.6 billion dollars, allocated by the U.S. Congress to Mexico for “training equipment and assistance.”

For now, the López Obrador administration has decided to implement a technique to persuade Central American migrants to benefit from the humanitarian visa programme.

For many who continue northwards with the caravan – some 2,000 who didn’t accept the proposal – special vigilance has been assigned to forestall street accidents and to provide them with humanitarian assist. To date, no migrants have been detained or deported.

On the southern border, a number of the Central People lining up for his or her humanitarian visas advised IPS that they might attempt to settle in Mexico; others stated they might use the safe-conduct to attempt to attain the USA, as a result of now they might have the opportunity to comply with that dream with out the threat of being persecuted within the lengthy, hazardous journey via this country.

With reporting by Ángeles Mariscal in Tapachula and other towns in the state of Chiapas.


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