By EDGAR H. CLEMENTE, TAPACHULA, Mexico (AP):- An estimated 800 migrants trying to continue their journey north were intercepted by Mexican authorities early Friday after they walked out of the southern city of Tapachula overnight.
The attempted migrant caravan followed a day of protest Thursday over the Mexican government’s attempts to contain them in the south, far from the U.S. border. The migrants had only walked about 10 miles (15 kilometers) through the darkness when they were intercepted around 5 a.m. by National Guard and immigration agents.
Migrants from Central America, Haiti, Venezuela and other countries were loaded into immigration vans.
On Thursday, hundreds of migrants had protested outside the local offices of immigration and asylum authorities, complaining that the process of gaining temporary legal status was too slow. Migrants have long said that there isn’t sufficient work or housing for the thousands who wait for months in Tapachula for some resolution of their status.
Many incur debts to migrate and anything that delays them in getting paying work stresses their situation as they still have to pay rent and buy food.
Mexico has been overwhelmed with asylum requests in recent years. Some migrants see remaining in Mexico as a viable option while others see it just as a way to get papers that allow them to transit Mexico freely and make their way to the U.S. border.
Tapachula is also home to the largest migrant detention center in Latin America. There was no official word on how many of the migrants had been detained Friday morning.
Luis García Villagrán, a migrant advocate in the city, accused the immigration agency of provoking the exodus by not resolving their cases.