Pope Francis has donated half a million dollars to assist migrants in Mexico, the Vatican announced today.
The Catholic Church said in a statement that the funds will be distributed to 27 projects in 16 dioceses and among religious congregations that have asked for help to continue providing housing, food and basic necessities to migrants, who are mainly from Central America.
The statement noted that 75,000 migrants entered Mexico in 2018 in six caravans, adding that “all these people were stranded, unable to enter the United States, without a home or livelihood.”
It also said that media coverage of the “emergency” has been decreasing and that aid from governments and private individuals has declined as a result.
“In this context, Pope Francis donated US $500,000 to assist migrants in Mexico.”
The Vatican said that a total of 13 projects have already been approved and that another 14 are being evaluated.
“A regulated and transparent use of the resources, which must be accounted for, is required before the aid is assigned,” the statement said.
The projects that have already been authorized will be undertaken in the dioceses of Cuautitlán, México state; Nogales, Sonora; Mazatlán, Sinaloa; Querétaro, Querétaro; San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz; Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas; and Tijuana, Baja California.
The Scalabrinians, the congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and the Josefinas Sisters have also received funding.
“Thanks to these projects, and thanks to Christian charity and solidarity, the Mexican bishops hope to be able to continue helping our migrant brothers and sisters,” the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, around 600 mainly Cuban migrants who escaped from a detention center in Tapachula, Chiapas, on Thursday remained at large as of last night, immigration authorities said.
The National Immigration Institute (INM) said in a statement that 645 migrants fled the Siglo XXI migration center, not 1,300 as it initially reported and that 35 have since returned. It didn’t explain why the figures had been reduced.
The center was holding 1,745 people – almost double its capacity – at the time, the INM said.
The agency said the breakout occurred after a group of Cuban men violently broke into a section of the immigration center reserved for women.
The incident caused a commotion and the migrants were able to gain access to other parts of the detention center before reaching its main entrance. INM personnel were unarmed and unable to stop the men from leaving, the statement said.
The escape was the largest from a Mexican immigration center in recent history. According to people with family members in the Siglo XXI center, the breakout occurred after a dispute about food and sleeping space, both of which are at a premium.
Laisel Gómez Cabrera, a Cuban who now lives in Texas, told the Associated Press that he was worried about his wife, Anisleidys Sosa Almeida, who has been detained at the center for weeks.
In Tapachula yesterday, he said that overcrowding in the facility provoked a fight before Thursday’s escape.
“. . . They had to fight among themselves for a place to lie down, to get a little bit of food. They couldn’t put up with it anymore, they rioted and they left,” Gómez Cabrera said.
“All the ones who left are going to get put on a red list. If they catch them again, they are going to be subject to automatic deportation,” he added.
The INM said that most of the 980 Cubans who were held in Tapachula had applied for amparos or injunctions through Tapachula lawyers who provide “false expectations” of obtaining a transit visa that will allow them to travel to the United States border.
However, “it has only delayed their assisted return to Cuba,” the agency said. A group of 148 Cubans was deported from Tapachula last week.
The INM also said that criminal charges will be filed against those who fled the detention center for the damage they caused prior to leaving, and that security measures at the facility have been bolstered.
Unprecedented numbers of migrants have entered Mexico at the southern border since late last year.
Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez said earlier this week that around 300,000 migrants traveled through Mexico en route to the United States in the first three months of this year.