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Los Angeles (AFP) – Migrants who enter Mexican territory through the southern border suffer “abuses” due to the measures adopted by Mexico and Washington to prevent them from entering the United States, Human Rights Watch denounced Monday, coinciding with the beginning of the Summit of the Americas.
Refugee status applications and migrant detentions in Mexico “have increased dramatically” as US President Joe Biden “continues to restrict access to asylum on the southern border,” the NGO warned in a report.
According to HRW, “those who cross Mexico’s southern border fleeing violence and persecution have difficulty obtaining protection, face serious abuse and delays.”
“They are often forced to wait for months in inhumane conditions near Mexico’s southern border as they struggle to find work or housing.”
For Tyler Mattiace, researcher for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, “the delegation of the US immigration application to Mexico has given rise to serious abuses and has forced hundreds of thousands of people to wait in appalling conditions to seek protection.”
In 2021, Mexico detained 307,569 migrants and 130,863 people applied for refugee status, a record, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
Biden “has continued many of the abusive anti-immigration policies” of his predecessor Donald Trump, “such as pressuring Mexico to prevent migrants from reaching the United States” and blocking access to asylum at the border through policies such as Title 42, a health regulation that Biden tried to rescind but a judge prevented him from doing so, and “Stay in Mexico,” the NGO denounced.
And his Mexican counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador has deployed almost 30,000 soldiers and INM immigration agents to detain irregular immigrants in the country, he added.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports about 7,500 apprehensions of unauthorized immigrants per day along the border with Mexico, nearly five times the 2014-2019 average.
And thousands more continue to arrive at the southern border of the United States: this Monday a caravan that was stationed in southern Mexico left for the north.
Biden hopes to reach a regional declaration on migration during the Summit of the Americas this week in Los Angeles, an essential issue for him with just months to go before the midterm elections in November.
But the leaders of key countries to discuss the migration crisis, such as Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, declined to attend the regional meeting.
Most of the migrants who enter through Mexico’s southern border come from Central America and the Caribbean, and almost half of those who applied for asylum were Haitians, reported Human Rights Watch, according to which most enter through the vicinity of the city of Tapachula, in the state of Chiapas.
According to interviews and NGO documentation cited in the report, most say they are fleeing violence or persecution in their countries.
Many say they are escaping death threats, extortion, and forced recruitment by gangs or drug cartels in Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador, or political persecution and widespread human rights abuses in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. .
Upon arriving in Mexico, they fear that the agents of the immigration authority, the National Migration Institute (INM), will deport them. Some say they were denied protection, dissuaded from applying for refugee status, or pressured into accepting voluntary returns.
“I thought they would help us when we got to Mexico, but … they turned us down,” said a man who says he is fleeing forced gang recruitment in Honduras, quoted in the report.
Mexico’s refugee authority, the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR, independent of INM) received more than 130,000 applications in 2021 but only processed 38,000.
© 2022 AFP