MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) – The Mexican federal government has dismantled a vast migrant camp located in a remote city in the south of the country in the state of Oaxaca, through which some 150,000 people have passed, obtaining temporary transit documents, With which they most of them continued their journey towards the border with the United States.
The National Institute of Migration (INM) reported the closure of its temporary facilities in the city of San Pedro Tapanatepec in a statement on Monday night, in which it did not explain the reasons for the measure. The press release only indicated that migrants would continue to receive assistance at “other facilities”, which were not specified.
The camp, located in the narrowest part of southern Mexico and which closed abruptly in late July, was intended to divert migrants from the southern border gateway city of Tapachula, which facilitated transit permits. In view of the continuous protest of migrants at that place.
At its peak, about 15,000 people gathered in five large tents set up on the outskirts of Tapanatepec, where for 134 days there was a constant flow of migrants: some arriving and others leaving with their documents several days later.
Most were Venezuelans and Nicaraguans, many of whom upon arrival in Mexican territory were sent to the place by the authorities themselves.
According to federal government figures, more than 135,000 migrants had passed through as of early November, with 50,000 in October alone.
Official figures for November and December have not yet been published, but as explained by local authorities and the non-governmental organization Medicos Sin Fronteras (MSF) – present in the municipality – the issuance of documents and procedures have not stopped. There were a lot of gains since last Thursday.
“What we see is that there is an increase in the number of migrant workersThe speed of the process was greatly increased and on the same day (migrants) could leave with their documents,” Helmer Charis, head of MSF activities at the municipality, told The Associated Press by telephone.
The organization held medical consultations on Tuesday for the migrants who were left in the city, between a thousand and 3,000, depending on who you ask.
The city had members of the National Guard, military and police who tried to disperse the migrants peacefully, Charis explained. Foreigners were “quite stressed, quite frustrated because they don’t know what to do, they can’t buy tickets,” he said.
They agreed with the city council that there was a lack of information. Modesto Martinez, the municipal secretary, told the Associated Press that immigration officials only told him they were leaving. “People were stranded waiting for information, but there was no information and many moved on without permission,” he said.
The municipality had already requested the federal government to close the facilities as they could not deal with the migrants.
Immigration officials began issuing this type of document in the middle of the year as a way to break up the groups leaving Tapachula. The majority were made up of Venezuelans, a difficult nationality to return to their home country.Both from Mexico – which can only do so with specific agreements with Caracas – and from the United States – which does not have diplomatic relations with Nicolas Maduro’s government –.
The permits – similar to those given to tourists at airports – allow migrants to cross into Mexico.
In mid-October, the United States launched a plan, on the one hand, to grant temporary visas to 24,000 Venezuelans who arrived by air, but on the other hand, began to expel those who arrived by land. Mexico was back.,
Around that time, permits issued in Tapantepec were stamped saying that the document was only valid in that state, a strange legend for a transit permit issued in a non-border state, such as Oaxaca.
Those documents continued to be released till last week.
The closing of the camp comes as the United States prepares for a possible court-ordered removal of a ban on asylum imposed by former President Donald Trump at the start of the pandemic.
Blocking this measure, which is litigated in the courts and could mean early removals at the US-Mexico border, could produce a knock-on effect, no matter how much the Biden administration stresses the message that migrants should not cross illegally. Give, because they will be returned.
Meanwhile, Tapachula remains the main city receiving asylum applications, with 64% of the more than 111,000 received this year, according to data from the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance.
Many of its residents fear that the continued influx of migrants will once again make the city a hotbed of rising tensions.