More and more refugees are making their way to Mexico – and from there to the US
On the country’s southern border, authorities are preventing thousands from continuing their journey. Most of them want to go to the United States.
The bottleneck is Río Suchiate. The river flows slowly and brown. At this point in the Mexican state of Chiapas, it is barely a hundred meters wide. There Guatemalans, with their rafts made of platform and truck tires, which they drive like Venetian gondolas, Guatemalans are waiting for customers. Depending on the baggage, five to ten immigrants can ride in the wobbling vehicle. The short trip to the new country costs 75 Guatemalan quetzales, a good eight francs. That’s a lot of money for immigrants.
On the Mexican side, the Guardia Nacional, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s new paramilitary police unit, is keeping an eye on current events. The head of state actually created the force to fight organized crime. But until now the border guards were mainly border police. Here at the southwestern tip of the country, they are supposed to prevent immigrants from entering Mexican territory. In the north, thousands of kilometers on the border with the United States, they are supposed to do just the opposite. An increasingly gruesome and impossible task.
Between January and August, Mexico counted 147,000 undocumented immigrants, triple what it was in 2020. US immigration authorities arrested about 212,000 refugees in July. Since Joe Biden took office in the United States and the situation in Central America has continued to deteriorate, they have returned in droves. Sometimes there are a thousand people a day who want to cross Suchiate. Recently, there has been an increasing number of Haitians among them. The Guardia Nacional? For 300 quetzales, they close their eyes when people on the Mexican side leave the raft.
Most refugees want to go north to the United States, where they have relatives or friends. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s administration is doing everything it can to prevent refugees from making this long journey.
Americans are strict on the border
Border Patrol took action this week when thousands of people near Del Rio, Texas, crossed the US border without valid travel documents. Film footage of clients on horseback was about preventing Haitian immigrants from ashore on the American side of the Rio Grande.
Such measures have an effect: the camp under a land bridge in Del Rio, where 15,000 people live in critical conditions at the start of the week, was completely emptied on Friday – also because many migrants decided to return to Mexico.
But politically speaking, the crisis is not over yet. Right-wing hardliners accuse Biden of sending the wrong signals to refugees. And left friends of the party to think that the president is heartless. “I’m not satisfied with the government,” Rep. Maxine Waters said, because Biden is a mainstay of immigration.
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