Irineo Mújica Irineo Mújica accused the institute of being the most corrupt federal agency in history.

Immigration institute accuses migrants caravan leader of lies and manipulation

Irineo Mújica responds by accusing agents of 'terrorizing' migrants

The National Immigration Institute (INM) accused the leader of the migrant caravan that left Tapachula, Chiapas, on October 23 of lies and manipulation to turn the migrants against the authorities.

The INM said Irineo Mújica of Pueblos Sin Fronteras, whom it called the “self described leader” of the largely Central American convoy, had put the health and safety of the migrants at risk. It  accused him of creating “animosity against the personnel of various government agencies who, when trying to approach to provide support, have been met with rejection and even attacks with sticks and stones.”

The agency compared Mújica to a human trafficker and said it was “regrettable that the migrants who belong to this march are victims of particular interests,” without providing details.

In response, Mújica said he was more trustworthy than the INM. “I never called myself a leader, but a human rights defender who has credibility and who during all my years of work has earned the respect of the migrant community and many other people, no matter what the institute tries to say … They [the INM] have terrorized the caravan, had women aborted, participated in the kidnapping of migrants, and it is the most corrupt organization in the history of federal agencies,” he said.

The INM also said almost 1,500 migrants had received humanitarian visas which provide the right to work and freedom of transit in Mexico for a year. That marks a successful if strenuous trip for those migrants who were not able to process asylum applications through the refugee agency COMAR, which had buckled under the weight of an unprecedented number of applications.

What has complicated the INM’s efforts to contain the caravan and process visas is mistrust: many of the contingent have passed through the agency’s prison-like detention centers — some held for months — after being involuntarily “rescued” by immigration agents.

President López Obrador responded to questions about immigration at his morning press conference on Monday. “We help the migrants, we respect them, protect them, take care of them, their rights are not violated, and when there are abuses, those who commit these excesses are punished,” he said.

The president failed to directly address a question on why COMAR’s budget was not increased despite the unprecedented number of asylum applications, which the agency had failed to process. Instead, he replied, “There is no country that is allocating so many resources in proportion to its economic capacity … to help its people, especially poor people,” he said.

Nevertheless, the president offered some encouragement: “We are also in solidarity with migrants,” he said.

With reports from Reforma 

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