Around 3,000 Central American, Venezuelan, and Haitian migrants set out Friday from this city near the Guatemalan border in hopes of reaching the United States. Unlike some of the previous caravans, this latest group is not accompanied by lawyers or human rights activists.
The travelers covered roughly 9 miles on their first day, as far as Alvaro Obregon, and Venezuelan migrant Jonathan Avila told EFE that the immediate objective is the town of Huixtla, where they hope to meet with representatives of Mexico’s INM immigration agency. Huixtla is about 30 km northwest of Tapachula.
Several thousand of the 15,000 migrants who followed the same route two weeks ago were issued with FMM transit visas valid for 30 days. But members of the new caravan say they are not interested in visas or transit permits, as some of them claim that the INM intercepted them and returned them to Tapachula despite their being in possession of the FMM document.
This contingent of migrants is asking instead to be provided with buses to carry them north to the US border through a “humanitarian corridor.”
“The situation in Tapachula is critical for the migrants because there is no work, one has to spend a lot of money and the procedures are protracted and the institutions don’t give due attention to the migrant community,” Nicaraguan Carlos Nolasco said.
A large contingent of INM agents, Chiapas state police, and National Guard personnel were waiting Friday at a checkpoint in the town of Viva Mexico, but allowed the caravan to go forward without incident. The new caravan is the latest manifestation of the wave of migration to the US, whose Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency recorded a record total of more than 1.7 million illegal border crossings in the 2021 fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30.
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Since the 2022 fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2021, the CBP says that more than 1 million migrants have been intercepted along the US’s southern border.
Mexico, for its part, says it deported more than 114,000 foreigners in 2021, the highest number in nearly 15 years, according to figures from the Migrant Policy Unit. In the first quarter of 2022, the INM processed 77,626 people, an increase of 89 percent over the same period last year.