Ten Central American migrants in Chiapas took a two-week protest against immigration authorities to a new extreme on Tuesday: they sewed their lips together while demonstrating in Tapachula.
Some 400 undocumented migrants are demanding humanitarian visas which would legalize their status in Mexico.
Tuesday’s drastic action came after demonstrations by hundreds of migrants over 14 days. Some complained immigration authorities had mocked and deceived them, the newspaper El Orbe reported.
Rafael Hernández, a migrant from Venezuela, said they left their countries for a better future in the United States but they’re forced to wait three to four months for a first interview with immigration authorities.
Hernández hopes to reach Monterrey, Nuevo León, and requested the National Immigration Institute (INM) provide visas to allow him to travel within Mexico.
Illegal migrants crossing the southern border are generally arrested and sent to prison-like migrant detention centers for an indeterminate period, or are told to go to Tapachula’s Olympic Stadium, a refugee camp where they are provided no humanitarian services and there are no immigration officials.
The legal status of migrants in Tapachula is increasingly clouded: they have been banned from leaving while they await the outcome of their applications to the refugee agency COMAR and the INM. However, both agencies have collapsed under the pressure of migrant influxes, leaving undocumented migrants waiting for responses to applications without any reliable time frame.
Many opt to join migrant caravans, in defiance of the authorities. It can be their best bet: some who left in a caravan on October 18 are in the United States with asylum applications pending.
With reports from El Orbe