Two immigration agents have been suspended for acting aggressively against migrants who were traveling on foot in Chiapas on Saturday.
The National Immigration Institute (INM) said in a statement that the Chiapas-based agents were suspended for “improper conduct” during an operation on the Tapachula-Arriaga highway near the community of Cruz de Oro. Brutal aggression would be a more accurate description of their conduct.
Video footage posted to social media showed one INM agent kicking and attempting to stomp on the head of a migrant who had been tackled to the ground and punched by another agent.
Members of the National Guard and INM agents used force to halt the advance of a caravan of some 600 migrants, many of whom were from Haiti, Cuba, Honduras and El Salvador.
The caravan members left Tapachula on Saturday after staging protests for several weeks to demand that their asylum cases be extradited. Dozens were detained during the confrontation on Saturday, while others avoided authorities and either returned to Tapachula or continued on their journey northward.
The INM said the decision to suspend the two agents was based on a clause of the Migration Law that states that institute officials must always act in accordance with principles of legality, objectivity, efficiency, professionalism, honesty and respect for human rights.
The agents were formally notified of their suspension on Sunday, the INM said. It reiterated that it won’t tolerate any conduct that doesn’t comply with its protocols and policies.
INM agents and National Guard agents confronted members of the same migrant caravan for a second time on Monday. A group of men that led the caravan was detained by authorities about 10 kilometers south of Mapastepec, a town about 100 kilometers north of Tapachula.
Women begged not to be detained while children were shouting and crying as their fathers were immobilized by INM agents, according to a report by the newspaper El Universal. The detained men were put on buses bound for El Ceibo, a community on Tabasco’s border with Guatemala.
Federal authorities made a second attempt to detain migrants after the caravan had advanced another two kilometers down the highway, but most managed to escape via a nearby mango plantations, El Universal said.
About 200 migrants made it to Mapastepec, where they spent Monday night, and were expected to continue traveling north on Tuesday.
Another caravan of some 400 migrants left Tapachula on Monday morning and a third is expected to depart on Wednesday. Their passage is also likely to be blocked by federal security forces and the INM.
Deputy Interior Minister Alejandro Encinas said Monday that Mexico cannot allow the free transit of undocumented migrants through the country to the United States. He also said the government would not offer transit visas to migrants that would allow them to legally travel to the northern border.
The government has previously issued such visas but stopped granting them after agreeing to the United States’ 2019 request for it to do more to stem the flow of migrants to the Mexico-U.S. border.
Even so, large numbers of migrants have arrived on the United States’ southern border this year. A monthly record of more than 212,000 would-be asylum seekers were detained by U.S. authorities after illegally crossing the border in July.