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News > Mexico

Mexican Soldiers Clash with Haitian, African Migrants at Border

  • An agent of the National Migration Institute (INM) escorts a migrant detained during an operation in Tapachula, Mexico September 5, 2019. Picture taken September 5, 2019.

    An agent of the National Migration Institute (INM) escorts a migrant detained during an operation in Tapachula, Mexico September 5, 2019. Picture taken September 5, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 September 2019

Rights activists said that pressure from Washington not to allow the migrants to get to the U.S. border is the main obstacle facing the Africans.

Dozens of Haitian and African migrants clashed with Mexican security forces on Thursday outside the Siglo XXI migration post in Tapachula in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, close to the Guatemalan border, demanding to be given visas to continue on their journey north.

African, Haitian Migrants Protest in Mexico's Southern Border

The migrants continued Friday for the sixth day in a row the demonstrations they have been holding for a week. No people were reported injured.

They painted slogans on the walls such as "President Lopez Obrador, we want freedom" and "National Institute of Migration = Mafia."

The Institute suspended all activities since the demonstrations started last week and will extended until full order is restored, according to the government.

Mexican officials have sought to slow down the U.S.-bound flow that President Donald Trump is determined to reject from entering the country. Trump has continually demanded that Mexican officials "do more" to thwart the flow of migrants north with hefty economic threats that would significantly affect Mexican commercial trade with the U.S.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vehemently denied changing its immigration policies in response to Trump threats, but has appeared to slam the brakes on its practice of awarding so-called humanitarian visas that allow migrants from other countries to pass freely within its borders. Without such papers, they are vulnerable to harassment, crime, extortion, human traffickers and deportation from officials.

Mexico's immigration institute said it would prioritize giving the visas to vulnerable groups including the elderly and unaccompanied minors, while offering transport home for others.

The migrants - who have been in the border town of Tapachula, near the southern tip of Mexico bordering Guatemala for several months, said Mexican officials have not provided any explanation as to why they are not seeing to their claims.

The migrant protesters allege there is corruption between Mexican authorities and agents of the National Migration Institute (INM), whom they accuse of delaying their ability to move across the country.

Last week, Lopez Obrador said that his government is “complying with its promise to make migration orderly” in his country after signing an agreement with the United States on June 7 to avoid the imposition of sanctions on imports by the U.S. administration.

He reminded reporters that in early September there will be a meeting between the Mexican and U.S. governments, given that the "evaluation period” imposed by the U.S. on whether or not Mexico is doing "enough" to control U.S.-bound migration ends on Sept. 10.

As part of the June agreement with the U.S., Mexico sent the National Guard – a newly created security force – to its northern and southern borders and hired more migration personnel.

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