Friday, 16 Nov 2018

Central American migrants in Mexico want buses to the US border

MEXICO – In a caravan that stopped in Mexico City, Central American migrants on Thursday asked a bus to take them to the US border, saying it was too cold and that it was dangerous to continue to walk and hitchhike.

About 200 migrants, representing some 5,000 people staying in a stadium in the south of the Mexican capital, went to the United Nations office in Mexico City to request transport.

The office was closed when the migrants arrived, but a dozen of them were received by US officials nearby, said Ilberto Sosa Montes, a 45-year-old Honduran who is one of the caravan's coordinators.

"We need buses to continue traveling," said Milton Benitez, coordinator of the caravan. Benitez noted that it would be colder in northern Mexico and that it was not safe for migrants to continue on highways, where drug cartels are common.

"It's a humanitarian crisis and they do not know it," Benitez said as the group arrived at the US office.

It was expected that when the migrant delegation returned to the stadium, about three hours' walk from the US office, the migrants would gather in an assembly to decide when they would leave Mexico City and where they would go to get to. American border. But the meeting with US officials continued until the evening of Thursday, confirmed the representatives of the UN and the caravan.

According to the authorities of Mexico City, of the 4,841 registered migrants accommodated in a sports complex, 1,726 are under the age of 18, including 310 children under five.

The Mexican government said most of the migrants refused to stay in Mexico and only a small number of them had agreed to return to their country of origin. About 85% of migrants come from Honduras, while others come from Central America, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

"California is the longest route, but the best border, while Texas is the nearest border, but the worst," Jose Luis Fuentes of the National Lawyers Guild told the assembled migrants.

It has already been reported that migrants on the caravan were missing, although this is often because they get into trucks stuck on different routes, leaving them strayed.

However, the UN human rights agency said that its office in Mexico had filed a report with state prosecutors in Puebla, about two buses in which the migrants were embarked on the last leg of the trip to Mexico at the beginning of the week and whose fate is unknown.

Mexico City is more than 600 km from the nearest US border crossing in McAllen, Texas. In the spring, a caravan had opted for a much longer route to Tijuana, in the far northwest, across from San Diego. By the time she reached the border, the caravan had only 200 people left.

Activists and officials explained the options available to migrants in Mexico, who had offered them a refuge, asylum or work visa. The government said 2,697 temporary visas had been issued to individuals and families to cover them while they were waiting for the 45-day application process to obtain a more permanent status.

Thursday's meeting with US officials comes two days after the mid-term US elections in which President Donald Trump turned migrants into a campaign problem, presenting them as a major threat.

Marlon Ivan Mendez, a farm worker from Copan, Honduras, was lining up to buy shoes to replace the worn fangs he has used since leaving his country three weeks ago. He said he was gone because gangs were asking him for rent to live in his own home.

"It's not fair that good guys pay for sinners," Mendez said, fearing gang members would come with the caravan.

Christopher Gascon, representative of the International Organization for Migration in Mexico City, estimated that an additional 4,000 caravans could cross southern Mexico.

But some migrants had gone to the tent of the organization to find out how they could return home.

Wednesday night, a bus left Mexico City to bring back 37 people to their home country.

In the stadium, hundreds of Mexico City employees and an even larger number of volunteers helped organize donations and direct the migrants to food, water, diapers and children. other basic elements. Migrants searched piles of clothes and seized boxes of milk for the children.

Darwin Pereira, a 23-year-old construction worker from Olanchito, Honduras, left his country with his wife and his 4-year-old son, for the simple reason that "it does not matter." there is no work there. "

Pereira, who still wears the cheap plastic sandals with which he left Honduras a month ago, pondered what he would do if he met the US president.

"If I meet Donald Trump, I'll cry. I'm going to cry because there's nothing else to do, "he said.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, disseminated, rewritten or redistributed.


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