Migrants in US-bound caravan say they'll accept deal for Mexican visas

Thousands of migrants who had organized a U.S.-bound caravan have taken a deal to disband their group in exchange for visas to stay in Mexico, according to a report by Reuters.

The caravan had recently left the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, traveling as a group to defend themselves against criminals and potential harassment from authorities. The migrants, traveling by foot, had walked about 30 miles from Tapachula to the town of Mapastepec, both in the hot and humid coastal region of the southern state of Chiapas.

Luis Garcia Villagran of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, one of the caravan's organizers, told Reuters that the group struck a deal with the Mexican government that allows the migrants to settle across multiple Mexican states in exchange for a promise not to organize future caravans.

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Mexico's National Migration Institute said in a statement that authorities and the migrants had reached an agreement for resettlement with humanitarian visas.

Mexico also offered to house the migrants in shelters run by the country's social welfare institute, known as DIF, as long as they remain in the states to which they are resettled.

The chosen states are all in central and southern Mexico, away from the borders with Guatemala and the United States.

The caravan was among two organized earlier this month, as migrants complained that Tapachula had essentially become an open air prison for asylum-seekers, who were not allowed to leave the impoverished border city.

Many of the migrants in the caravans are either Central American or Haitian.

The number of Haitian migrants attempting to enter the United States plummeted in October, but migration experts warned that potentially more than 100,000 Haitians and South American-born children of Haitians are currently in transit through Central America and Mexico.

Mexico has ratcheted up its migration enforcement and its asylum system in recent years, as the Biden and Trump administrations had both asked the country to take a more active role in managing the region's migration patterns.

Still, conditions in Central America and Haiti — and for Haitian refugees in South America — have worsened because of a combination of factors, including the coronavirus pandemic, and flows are expected to continue.