Thursday, November 30, 2023

2,500 migrants accept offer of humanitarian visas

Migrants who left Tapachula, Chiapas, on November 18 have accepted an offer by the National Immigration Institute (INM) to provide them with humanitarian visas.

The fast moving caravan, primarily composed of Haitians and Venezuelans, planned to catch up to a slower caravan in Veracruz which left Tapachula almost a month earlier. However, its members, who number at least 2,500, accepted the INM offer in Mapastepec, 108 kilometers into its journey, through its leader Luis Rey García Villagrán, the INM said in a statement.

“We are going to transfer [the migrants] to 10 states of the country … we have offered them … accommodation in shelters and employment opportunities in addition to the visas,” INM official Héctor Martínez Castuera said. 

The visas are good for one year and include permission to work and the right to move around the country. That will mean only one direction for most of the recipients, who want to earn dollars in the United States.

The migrants are being taken to INM offices in Puebla, Querétaro, Hidalgo, México state, Michoacán, Guerrero, Colima, Jalisco and Guanajuato for their visas to be processed. 

The dissolution of the caravan signals victory for the migrants who decided to storm out of Tapachula, and broke the law by doing so. Many waited for months — some for years — in Tapachula for paperwork from the refugee agency COMAR, which director Andrés Ramírez admitted this week was near total collapse.

The first caravan was offered visas by the INM less than a week after its departure, insisting that they would only be made available to people deemed vulnerable. Initially, most of the convoy were distrustful of the offer, but gradually the majority of the migrants that surrendered themselves to immigration authorities — vulnerable or otherwise — were awarded visas.

The remaining 500 or so migrants arrived in San Juan Evangelista, Veracruz, on Tuesday, 520 kilometers from Mexico City.

With visas in hand, many migrants will head to the U.S. border.

President López Obrador urged Biden to reassess the U.S. position in Washington D.C. on November 18. “Myths and prejudices must be put to one side. For example, stop rejecting migrants, [because] to grow you need a workforce that, in reality, is not sufficiently available in the United States or Canada. Why not study the demand for labor and open the migratory flow in an orderly fashion?” he said.

Meanwhile, thousands of other migrants blocked a highway in Tapachula on Tuesday demanding the INM follow through on its promise of visas.

Mexico News Daily

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