Migrants hoping to travel to the United States damaged a service module set up by the National Immigration Institute (INM) in Tapachula, Chiapas, on Tuesday.
The INM had set up the facility outside the Siglo XXI migrants’ center to review the cases of migrants who are mostly from African countries and Haiti, and have been stranded in Tapachula for five months.
Migrants were hoping that the INM would change their migratory status and allow them to exit the country freely, as most hope to reach the United States or Canada. At present the migrants are only allowed to leave the country through the southern border.
But the INM was only prepared to offer them a limited regularization of their status in Mexico. When the migrants realized they weren’t going to get the exit visas they wanted, they became angry and began throwing the tables and chairs that the INM had put in place for interviews, according to one migrant who spoke with the digital news outlet Animal Político.
“People were hoping that they would call us to give us a solution,” he said. “But they didn’t do anything. They started calling people, one by one, to talk to them. People aren’t happy, they got mad, and grabbed the chairs and everything they have there.”
According to a statement by the INM, the case reviews had to be cancelled because of the clash.
“INM officials, accompanied by translators for various languages, began attending to the first foreign citizens,” the statement said. “However, the service could not continue because some of the migrants started destroying things . . . throwing chairs, tables and portable bathrooms and manifesting their rejection of the services offered by the INM.”
A group of 812 of the African migrants has put their hopes in a legal fight against the exit restrictions. Last month, a judge made a preliminary ruling in the migrants’ favor that the exit restrictions are illegal, but the case will be heard by other courts before the migrants might be allowed to travel north.