Anti-immigrant bias runs freely on both sides of the Mexico-United States border.
Signs posted at the entrance to a town in Oaxaca warn migrants they are not welcome and suggest they carry on their way.
“Migrant friend: we inform you that it is prohibited for you to stay in this village or to ask around its streets for help, so you should go along your way. Avoid being reported,” reads the message over the signature “The general public.”
It was violent disputes among opposing criminal gangs that triggered the erection of the signs in Vicente Camalote in the municipality of Acatlán de Pérez Figueroa.
Mayor Adán Maciel Sosa told the newspaper Milenio that the signs were the result of a community agreement intended to stop gangs from raiding the community and targeting migrants staying there.
The tipping point was the recent murder of a woman during one of those raids, the mayor said.
Not everyone agrees with the measure. “People are scared, but I find it very unjust that people should be denied a glass of water, a tortilla, a coin,” said one resident.
Matters have been made worse by the “cockroach effect,” which has driven criminal gangs fleeing enforcement in the neighboring state of Veracruz and establishing themselves in Acatlán.
One focus of local and regional gangs is human trafficking, and no one is more vulnerable to it than undocumented migrants traversing the country northward on the railway known as La Bestia (the beast).
The sign is easily visible from the train and is serving to persuade some travelers to continue on their journey, reported the newspaper El Financiero. But a town one hour away, where a migrants’ shelter is located, has also withdrawn the welcome mat.
A large wall with barbed wire on top has been erected alongside the rails to deter migrants from entering the city of Tierra Blanca, in Veracruz.
Oaxaca human rights ombudsman Arturo Peimbert lamented the anti-migrant reaction of the people of Acatlán, and said he would seek a meeting with municipal officials to have the message removed.
“We cannot be intolerant” and treat migrants in the same way that Mexican migrants are treated at the northern border, he said.
Source: Milenio (sp)