Central Americans plan to settle in Mexico in the face of restrictive measures by Trump

In the state of Chiapas, in southern Mexico, the overburdened COMAR refugee assistance office in the city of Tapachula has seen an increase in asylum seekers.

Many of the Central Americans who lined up at a refugee support office in southern Mexico said they could abandon their plans to reach the United States and stay in Mexico if President Donald Trump suppresses immigration even further.

Mexico is increasing security on its southern border with Guatemala as part of an agreement with Washington after Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican products if the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador does not reduce the flow of migrants arriving in the United States.

Under pressure from its northern neighbor, Mexico also agreed to expand a program begun in January that forces migrants to wait in Mexico for the results of their asylum applications in the United States.

On Thursday, the United States began to increase the pace of returns of asylum seekers to Mexico.

Furthermore, if Mexico does not reduce immigration flows before mid-July, it would become a “safe third country” where asylum-seekers would have to seek refuge instead of the United States.

In the state of Chiapas, in southern Mexico, the overburdened COMAR refugee assistance office in the city of Tapachula has seen an increase in asylum seekers.

It is one of the three offices of this type in the country. People waiting in line outside the COMAR office said they would risk staying in Mexico if their only option was to return to Central America, ravaged by violence.

Thousands of families have fled poverty and rampant crime in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala in the last year, making their way through Mexico in the direction of the United States.

“If we would not have another option, yes, we can stay in Mexico, because we can not really return to Honduras,” said Dagoberto, 34, waiting in line under the bright midday sun with his partner, José.

Dagoberto said he had received threats in Honduras when a criminal gang took over the business for which he worked. He was asking COMAR for a humanitarian visa to allow him to reach the United States border.

Dagoberto and José, who hope to marry if they arrive in the United States, refused to give their surnames, explaining that the band of criminals that forced them to leave Honduras had international reach.

Nidia Martínez and her three children slept the previous three nights on the sidewalk in front of the COMAR office, where she is looking for a credential to allow her to travel north to the US border.

“I want to get to the United States. If I can not, then Mexico is a good place to live, “he said, citing the feeling of greater security he felt since arriving in Tapachula.

“In Honduras you can not live on the street because you are robbed, raped or killed,” said Martinez, 28, with a relieved smile that she and her children had not been assaulted in the Mexican city bordering Guatemala. .

But security in his case depended on sleeping outside the refugee office. Migrants in other parts of the city and throughout Mexico often face extortion, kidnapping and, what is worse, by criminals or corrupt government officials.

Martinez said he could find his mother, who lives in the state of Puebla, Mexico, and make arrangements to live with her and find work. But she explained that she could not go anywhere without the COMAR document.

“It’s dark and dawn here because without this paper they grab me and deport me (…) You suffer but you have to wait for that role”. he added.

Her 20-month-old daughter, Litzy, looked at her smiling wearing a wool sweatshirt decorated with blue hearts and hair tied with a purple band. Later in the day, they were forced by a tropical downpour to get in the doors to stay dry.

Hernando Gustavo Velázquez, 45, who arrived from Honduras a week earlier with his sister and nephew, also slept outside waiting for an interview opportunity at the refugee office.

Velázquez said that if he could not fulfill his dream of reaching the United States, then Mexico would be much better than returning to Honduras. “In Honduras, if extortion is not paid, it’s not a lie, they’re going to kill your family and kill you,” he said.

Source: notimex, reuters

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