Migrant Caravans Wear Out Mexican Welcome
Migrant Caravans Wear Out Mexican Welcome
This might not be the end of the migrant caravans, but the backlash that is reportedly growing among Mexican citizens bodes no good for the groups still pushing mass migration from Central America up to the U.S.-Mexico border.
With all the chaos in the court rulings on the American side of the border, the migrant caravans have not stopped organizing and heading north. But what those organizers didn’t count on was how quickly they were wearing out their welcome among the Mexicans who are watching the parade.
Madison Mendoza, her feet aching and her face burned by the sun, wept as she said she had nothing to feed her 2-year-old son who she’d brought with her on the long trek toward the United States.”
Mendoza, 22, said an aunt in Honduras had convinced her to join the migrant caravan, which she did two weeks ago in the capital of Tegucigalpa. The aunt said she’d have no problems, that people along the route in Mexico would help as they did for a large caravan that moved through the area in October.”
But this time, the help did not come. The outpouring of aid that once greeted Central American migrants as they trekked in caravans through southern Mexico has been drying up. Hungrier, advancing slowly or not at all, and hounded by unhelpful local officials, frustration is growing among the 5,000 to 8,000 migrants in the southern state of Chiapas.”
“What causes me pain is that the baby asks me for food and there are days when I can’t provide it,” said Mendoza, who fled Honduras with almost no money because she feared for her life after receiving threats from the father of her son. “I thought that with the baby, people would help me on road.”
And it isn’t just the people. The fatigue is reportedly spreading to local Mexican government officials.
Members of the caravan in October received food and shelter from town governments, churches and passers-by. Drivers of trucks stopped to give them a lift. Little of that is happening this time. And local officials who once gave them temporary permits to work in Mexico, now seem to snare them in red tape. Truckers and drivers have been told they will be fined if caught transporting migrants without proper documentation.”
Heyman Vázquez, a parish priest in Huixtla, a community along the caravan’s route, said local support for the Central American migrants has dried up because of an anti-migrant discourse that blames them for crime and insecurity.”
“It is due to the campaign of discrimination and xenophobia created through social networks and the media that blames migrants for the insecurity in Chiapas,” he said.”
That is a huge change from last year. Dare we hope that some political pressure from the Trump administration has finally sunk in, or has the current ruling on the American side of the border that says that yes, asylum seekers can be forced to stay in Mexico while their cases are processed in the American court system suddenly opened the eyes of Mexican officials?
And just to highlight how much no one seems to know which end is up on the border, Mexican soldiers actually detained two American soldiers last week – while they were all on the U.S. side of the border.
U.S. Northern Command said in a statement that “five to six Mexican military personnel questioned two U.S. Army soldiers who were conducting border support operations” this month. The U.S. soldiers were in an unmarked Customs and Border Protection [CBP] vehicle near the southwest border near Clint, Texas.”
Officials confirmed that the Mexican troops were armed with what seemed to be rifles. They raised their weapons when they saw the two U.S. soldiers, and then took a pistol from one and put it in the CBP vehicle. According to officials talking to CNN, the two Americans obliged “in an attempt to de-escalate a potential volatile situation.”
“Throughout the incident, the U.S. soldiers followed all established procedures and protocols,” the statement said. The two U.S. troops were on the south side of the security perimeter but north of the Rio Grande and thus were in the U.S., according side American territory, it added.”
When one side of the border doesn’t know where the border begins or ends, we have a problem. When migrant caravans are continually sold a promise of a new life in America that organizers can’t deliver on, that’s also a problem. And when Mexican citizens are getting fed up with the migrant caravans because they come with expectations of support, that’s also a problem. The biggest problem of all, of course, is that everyone knows these are problems, and yet no one has the will to fix any of them.