Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Thousands of migrants overwhelm refugee processing office in Tapachula

Migrants forcibly entered the offices of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar) in Tapachula, Chiapas, Monday, as up to 5,000 refugees protested delays in processing their asylum claims.

Monday was the first day Comar resumed full operations, after a 15-day holiday period in which it only attended to scheduled appointments. 

Migrants from numerous countries, including Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela and Central America started gathering outside the offices over the weekend, blocking a nearby street. Tempers flared among the waiting migrants after Comar officials announced they would prioritize pregnant women and family groups, leaving thousands more queuing for up to 12 hours. 

Most of the migrants were hoping to apply for a Unique Population Registry Code (CURP), a national identity number that legalizes their stay in Mexico while their asylum claim is processed. The CURP allows refugees to access social programs and monetary aid while in the country and prevents them being detained or deported by the National Migration Institute (INM).

Migrants in Tapachula, Mexico, protesting processing delays outside the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance offices
An estimated 5,000 migrants gathered outside Comar’s office on Monday, the first day it was open after a 15-day holiday period. Some migrants have been waiting months in Tapachula for their asylum claims to be processed.

“We do this procedure to be a little safer, so that they don’t deport us to our country, which we left because of the poverty and violence there since they killed the president,” one Haitian migrant, Ronaldo Pierre, told the newspaper Diario del Sur, referring to the late Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, who was assassinated in July of 2021. 

Several migrants told local media that authorities should find ways to better organize the process, to prevent the long delays. Even after the application is filed, processing can take up to three months.

Although Comar insists that the CURP is not intended to be used to transit through Mexico, many hope that it will facilitate their journey northwards.

“We want papers to remain in Mexico legally and continue the journey to the northern border [toward] the United States,” Cuban migrant Yanela told the news agency EFE.

Comar has been struggling to cope with historically high asylum claims since the coronavirus pandemic. The commission received more than 118,000 applications during 2022, only a slight drop from the record 130,000 claims received in 2021. Over 76,000 of the claims in 2022 were made in Tapachula.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained an unprecedented 2.76 million undocumented migrants over the course of the year. Many of these were repeat arrests due to pandemic-era regulations, often referred to as Title 42 regulations, that allow asylum-seekers to be immediately expelled to Mexico, driving many to make multiple attempts to cross the U.S. border.

 With reports from LatinUS, El Sol del Centro and La Razón

Have something to say? Paid Subscribers get all access to make & read comments.
Tropical Storm One projection Cyclone Albert

Potential tropical cyclone approaches northeastern coast of Mexico

The potential tropical cyclone could become the first named storm of the hurricane season by Wednesday.
Worried guests gather around a hot tub in Puerto Peñasco

Wife of US tourist who died in Puerto Peñasco hot tub electrocution files US $1M suit

When she saw her husband struggling under the water, Zambrano jumped in to help, only to be electrocuted herself.
A group of mostly Black migrants, some of whom maybe be undocumented foreigners, walks down a Mexican highway under a bright sun.

Nearly 1.4 million undocumented migrants detected in Mexico so far this year

The National Immigration Institute (INM) data on encounters from January to May is almost double the number for all of 2023.