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Migrants in southern Mexico prevented from moving towards US border

Migrants in southern Mexico prevented from moving towards US border
Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Daniel Bellamy with AP
Published on Updated
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Hundreds protest outside the migration office in the southern city of Tapachula, saying they're vulnerable to criminal extortion and kidnapping.

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Hundreds of migrants and refugees have once again taken to the streets in Mexico's southern city of Tapachula, demanding that the authorities allow them free transit through Mexico so they can attempt to get into the United States.

Protesting in front of the heavily guarded Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees and the National Migration Institute offices, the stranded migrants say they are being extorted by criminals and have been the victims of kidnapping.

Several cases of the kidnapping of migrants and refugees have been reported in Tapachula and other parts of Mexico.

The criminals contact the migrant's family in the US and demand money for the release of their relative.

The migrants warned that if there is no immediate response to their demand for free transit, they will start the first caravan of 2022.

In 2020, Mexico was forced to find alternatives for the ever-growing caravans of migrants and refugees coming from Central America and beyond.

Now, after more than two years of a government containment policy that kept them stuck in the south, far from the US border, Tapachula, close to Mexico's border with Guatemala and a sweltering city of some 350,000, is overwhelmed with tens of thousands of recent migrants.

They have been crowded in parks and plazas, many complaining they cannot find work.

Despite the Mexican government's 2021 plan to move migrants to other states across Mexico and give them humanitarian visas to let them work legally for a year, a backlog of requests for visas and the fact that many of the migrants still aspire to make it to the United States is casting doubt on the success of the plan.

According to the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, an increasing number of migrants have applied for asylum in Mexico, rather than trying to make it to the United States.

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