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Migrants wait to see immigration agents in Mapastepec. Migrants wait to see immigration agents in Mapastepec.

Temporary migrant employment program begins in Chiapas

Federal government says 5,300 migrants are currently in Chiapas camps

The National Immigration Institute (INM) said registration began Friday for a temporary employment program for migrants, an initiative of the federal department of Social Wellbeing.

Federal authorities said there are currently 5,365 migrants in Chiapas in refugee camps, waiting for special permission from the Mexican government to stay in the country or continue their journey north to the United States.

The INM said it is overseeing the distribution of medical care, food, water, basic products for children and infants.

Immigration authorities said 1,100 migrants are camped in Ciudad Hidalgo, where the agency serves 3,300 food rations every day. In Tapachula, 1,527 migrants awaiting deportation are given 4,500 food rations, while in Mapastepec, federal authorities continue to provide humanitarian aid to the 650 asylum seekers who remain at the refugee camp.

On Friday afternoon, the INM detained more than 200 Central American migrants in Mapastepec as they stopped to rest and wait for a larger caravan of migrants. Those that managed to evade capture continued towards Pijijian, where they hoped to find temporary shelter and rest.

As the numbers of migrants entering Mexico’s southern border spiked dramatically in recent months, so have deportations by the INM, though Mexican immigration authorities denied that the increase in migrant detentions has been due to pressure by the United States.

As the migrant numbers have increased, the welcome they have received has been cooler.

One Mapastepec resident who said she helped provide food for migrant caravans last year told Reuters that migrants “are pouring on to the land” and regularly ask residents for money, rejecting offers of food.

A recent poll of close to 500 adults by the Center of Public Opinion at the University of the Valley of Mexico (UVM) found that 83% believed that migrants could cause problems for Mexico, and 62% said that they believed Mexico should be tougher on them.

Source: Milenio (sp), Reuters (en)

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