Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Grass ... Always Greener 

"Nobody knows where this is going to go, how many people are going to come, how many more people we're going to help."
Rogelio Pinal Castellanos, director, Juarez human rights

"We don't have the capacity to receive so many people for so much time."
"Facing a situation that we didn't cause, the costs have been high and are increasing."
Enrique Valenzuela, Chihuahua population council
Gettyimages 1085941722
Welcome mat: Central American migrants heading to the United States with a second caravan receive their visitor’s card for humanitarian reasons in Mexico.
Source Composite Sean Culligan/OZY, Image Getty

Since taking office in December, Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador appears to feel that Mexico can continue to stretch its resources to welcome new migrants in ever increasing numbers. That's the thing about welcoming and inviting people, they tend to take notice and then they take action, withdraw themselves from their current living arrangements and take a migratory route elsewhere expecting to be welcomed as stated.

A record number of northbound migrants from Central America, the Caribbean and other sources continue to overwhelm authorities and facilities on either side of the Mexico-United States border. They are escaping poverty, unemployment, violence, poor living conditions in their countries of origin, to enter Mexico, where poverty, violence and poor living conditions also exist, in hopes of travelling through Mexico to reach the land of plenty, America, where confoundingly, poverty and violence prevails for many.

Maria Magdalena Ferrufino Nunez had heard that the new president in Mexico was determined to give aid to the migrants in search of a better life. "I heard that he was welcoming the caravans", the 55-year-old said, travelling with her son to reach Ciudad Juarez for shelter while awaiting the opportunity to apply for asylum in the United States. She may not, through that same verbal grapevine of information, have taken seriously the intention of that other president named Trump to forestall entrance of migrants to his country.

If she had heard, she obviously chooses not to believe it, just as she has chosen to believe what she had heard the new Mexican president has said. Migrants, along with local officials and scholars studying the phenomenon of the unstoppable caravans, cite the policies of President Obrador as having encouraged greater-than-ever numbers of migrants to head out and steadily gain their way north. Deportation numbers have plummeted, as the Obrador administration has generously handed out visas and work permits.

At the same time, the greater restrictions imposed on entry to the U.S. has resulted in migrant numbers swelling as they await their opportunity to be welcomed with open arms to the American side of the border. Thousands of migrants overflow shelters and overwhelm the emergency resources of local governments and civil society, from Tijuana on the west of the border to Matamoros on the east. Migrants began their arrivals en masse late last year in Juarez, overflowing into the city's two shelters.

There are now nine shelters, and still that is not sufficient housing to accommodate the new arrivals, pouring into the despairing city at the rate of over a hundred daily, according to local and state officials. Greater numbers of migrants can be incorporated into the Mexican work force, claims Mr. Lopez Obrador. A task force was set up in January, where the Mexican immigration agency on the southern border planned to expedite issuing of yearlong, renewable humanitarian visas for Central Americans.

When more than 13,000 migrants swiftly applied for the visa within a two-week period, government ended the program abruptly. Many who had applied for the visa stated their intention; to use the visa for the singular purpose of easing passage to the northern border, to cross into America, their ultimate destination. "I heard that they were giving an excellent entry permit, and because of that we came with the idea of making it to the United States", explained donald Tejada, 28, a coffee plantation worker from Honduras.

The plan is, to resume issuing humanitarian visas in the southern state of Chiapas where in March the Mexican migration agency stated its intention to begin issuing visas through Mexican Consulates in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras from May forward. The Obrador administration has felt pressure from northern border cities and states shouldering the burden of care for the migrants. Lobbying the federal government for funding to help the migrants has not, however, resulted in much assistance.
Migrantsinfographic v3

Labels: , , , , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet