Migrants, police clash in southern Mexico as frustrations rise over passage to US border
Mexican authorities on Tuesday pushed back a group of about 100 migrants after their protests turned violent in the southern city of Tapachula.
The migrants, most of whom were of Cuban, Haitian and African origin, were demanding Mexican migration officials quickly process their permits to leave Tapachula to either make their way to the U.S.-Mexico border or other parts of Mexico.
According to the Mexican National Migration Institute (INM), around 30 Cuban nationals refused to stand in line outside the permits office, and were later joined by around 70 migrants that the INM identified as from African nations and Haiti.
The Mexican National Guard — a militarized police force — deployed to remove the protesters, and the protests turned violent, according to INM.
According to a report by Reuters, human rights activist Irineo Mujica said the migrants were frustrated after waiting for months for permission to leave Tapachula, a small city near the border with Guatemala.
“It got completely out of control because people are very desperate,” Mujica told Reuters.
Still, the INM rebuked the migrants.
“People of Cuban, Haitian and African origin refuse to wait their turn to regularize their stay [in Mexico],” read a statement by INM.
Mexican authorities have amplified their enforcement of immigration laws in the past few years, particularly as the migrant population seeking to cross the country has diversified.
While migration from Central America has somewhat ebbed recently, more people from Haiti, Venezuela and from beyond the Americas, particularly Africa, have sought to cross Mexico seeking refuge in the United States.
Mexico’s National Guard, originally conceived as a federalized police force to combat organized crime, has taken a central role in containing migrants, often amid accusations of human rights violations and excessive force.
While Mexico has grown as a migrant-receptor country, it is still mainly a transit country.
International organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have criticized Mexico’s practice of bottlenecking migrants in cities like Tapachula.