Immigration authorities have now registered more than 10,000 migrants at the southern border as part of a new government program that has been described by an official as “super successful.”
The National Immigration Institute (INM) announced on Twitter today that it registered 8,446 requests for humanitarian visas from adult migrants currently in Chiapas and 1,897 requests from minors in just six days.
Many of the migrants crossed into Mexico last week as part of a new caravan that left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on January 14.
Some of them entered Mexico illegally and continued walking to Tapachula but later returned to the border crossing to regularize their immigration status. Some returned in buses provided today by the federal government.
Of 10,343 migrants, 75% are from Honduras while most of the remainder are from Guatemala and El Salvador, although the total also includes a small number of Nicaraguans, Haitians, Brazilians and Cubans.
INM chief Tonatiuh Guillén told the newspaper La Jornada that the initiative to offer humanitarian visas to the migrants has been successful and will continue, explaining that it is part of the federal government’s new immigration policy.
“I understand that for Donald Trump it’s not his ideal scenario and that he prefers another vision but this is Mexico’s sovereign decision and we hope that it also has an impact on reducing human trafficking,” he said.
“It’s been a super successful program, it’s really establishing a new paradigm in Mexico’s immigration policy that is based on Mexico’s laws and the country’s international commitments,” Guillén added.
The humanitarian visas, which allow migrants to work in Mexico and access services for a period of 12 months, are issued five days after the INM receives the requests.
Once in possession of the visa, the migrants are able to move legally throughout the country, meaning that if their goal is to apply for asylum in the United States, they can travel to the northern border.
“The objective on our part is for their entry to be regular, for all of them to have their legal situation in order and for them to consider Mexico as an alternative for employment,” Guillén said while in Chiapas to oversee the issuing of visas.
An added benefit of the visa scheme, he said, was that it allows authorities to know who is in the country.
“. . . For the first time, we’re going to know who has crossed into Mexico . . . and obviously we’ll have the possibility of identifying those who have a legal problem in Mexico or in another country,” Guillén said.
Thousands of Central American migrants are already in cities on Mexico’s northern border, especially Tijuana, where they face long waits for the opportunity to request asylum with United States authorities.
It is unclear how many of the cohort currently in Chiapas will also attempt to reach the Mexico-U.S. border and how many will choose to remain in Mexico.
Salvadoran migrant Aura Guinea, who is traveling with her five-month-old daughter, told CBS News today that she saw the humanitarian visa as a means to get to the United States and that she remained determined to do so.
However, a Honduran woman said that she would stay in Mexico because Trump doesn’t want people like her in the United States.
She said she hoped to be able to find a better paying job in Mexico than in Honduras, where she earned just US $2 a day washing dishes.
Trump, who has accused Mexico of doing nothing to stop migrants from reaching the United States’ southern border, is currently locked in a bitter battle in the United States over funding for his long-promised border wall.
“Build a wall and crime will fall,” he tweeted today.