A cloudy and rainy Mexico City will receive in the coming days the majority of the thousands of migrants from the caravan that left Honduras on October 12.
The first hundred arrived this Sunday and are already grouped in the stands of Jesus Martinez Stadium “Palillo” of the Mexican capital.
They are visibly tired. Most, as soon as they arrived they covered themselves with the blankets that they gave them and went to sleep.
“It has been an extremely difficult trip, especially for the children, we have walked many days, suffering the inclemencies of the sun, the rain and sometimes we have been hungry, ” says one of them.
Arriving in Mexico City represents a hope for migrants.
“It’s the place we think is safest,” explains Rodrigo Abeja, of the NGO Pueblos sin Fronteras, which has accompanied the caravan since its inception.
Like all those interviewed by BBC Mundo, Abeja considers it a “crucial” point.
It points out that the reception in the capital has been better than in other States and with a more humanitarian vision, since they sent in advance units of medical, psychological and food assistance.
“We’re going to keep them locked up”
The migrants hope that Mexico City will be a meeting point for the different waves of people who walk in the country, between 5 and 8 thousand, according to different sources.
“Here we will know what to do from now on, ” says a Honduran migrant to Guadalupe García, BBC.
Exactly this is the opinion of the different humanitarian organizations.
“In addition to ensuring spaces, taking care of the health and nutrition of people on the move, in Mexico City we have a very important role: to give people information so that they can make the best decisions,” explains the president of BBC Mundo. the Human Rights Commission of the capital, Nashieli Ramírez.
The people of the caravan are humble and ignore the laws of Mexico and the United States, which can lead them to make decisions without knowledge, says Leticia Calderón, a researcher at Instituto Mora.
“What should be done is to give them information and decide for themselves, for example, how to proceed to stay in Mexico or immigration policies at this time in the United States, including in the context of the US elections” , explains the student of the migratory process.
Last week, in the run-up to the mid-term elections (on November 6), Donald Trump, the president of the United States announced that his government is preparing a hardening in the management of asylum requests to his country.
“We are going to catch them, we are going to keep them locked up until the asylum or deportation hearing is held,” he said in a meeting with journalists at the White House.
So far, people seeking asylum remain at liberty under a protection known as parole , which allows them to stay in the country until the trial is held on their immigration status.
“These illegal caravans will not be allowed in the United States and should be turned around right now,” said Trump, who called the arrival of immigrants to the border an “invasion.”
In addition, he threatened that the military can shoot them if they are attacked.
Mexicans in favor and against
For its part, the government of Mexico announced a plan called “You are in your house” with which it intends to facilitate refugee status for thousands of Central Americans.
“Mexico wants to protect and support you, the only way we can do it is if you regularize your stay in the country and comply with our laws, ” said President Enrique Peña Nieto.
He said that a program of temporary employment and medical attention is contemplated. But, one of the main conditions was for migrants to stay in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca.
However, the migrants replied in an open letter that this plan does not respond to the causes of the “exodus”.
The statement says that they do not want “cities or prison states” and assures that a dialogue is needed in Mexico City, so they continued their march.
The first ones are already in the capital of the country.
They are part of the first caravan that left Honduras more than 20 days ago.
Other thousands of migrants are in the State of Puebla and others are lagging behind in Chiapas.
The president-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who will take office on December 1, promised work visas to migrants who wish to remain in the country.
According to the prestigious pollster Consulta Mitofsky, this proposal polarizes society: although 51% of Mexicans surveyed support the advance of the caravan , a third of them reject them and want to be pressured to return to their countries.
Those who support them call for solidarity with Central Americans. Those who reject them argue that migrants mean more insecurity for the Mexican population.
Although most of the migrants are from Honduras, there are also people from Nicaragua and Guatemala. In the last wave is mostly people who left on October 28 in caravan from El Salvador.
In Mexico City, dozens of people have turned to help newcomers.
Among them is Amanda Súcar, a victim of the earthquake of September 19 of last year.
“I received warm clothes in the coldest time I felt in my life, I am now in a slightly better situation and I want to help in what I can: I do not want these people to think that they are coming to a country where we are going to mistreat, “he says.
For the capital of Mexico this is a new situation, says the president of the Human Rights Commission of the city.
“We have never received so many migrants in one fell swoop, it is an unprecedented exodus In addition to being a country of transit, destination and expulsion of migrants, Mexico can become a refuge country : that requires new public policies that address this situation, “he says.
For now, in the Stadium where thousands of migrants are expected to arrive in the coming days, the authorities rush to build huge tents to protect them from the rains and cold.
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