African and Caribbean migrants at the U.S. southern border
Felicia Persaud | 11/7/2019, 1:13 p.m.
Often, when one thinks of migrants trying to enter the U.S. through its Southern border with Mexico, the perception is often that those immigrants are largely from Mexico and Central America, especially nations like Honduras and Guatemala.
But that perception is no longer a reality and Mexico’s latest migrant apprehension numbers prove it. According to the latest data from Mexico’s Migration Policy Unit of the Ministry of the Interior, over 14,000 migrants from Africa and the Caribbean were apprehended trying to enter the country illegally.
The data shows that as of August 2019, the latest figures available, 9,551 migrants from the Caribbean were detained in Mexico. That is compared to only 343 during the same eight-month period in 2018. Most were primarily from the nations of Cuba and Haiti fleeing economic woes in their nations.
Then there are the growing apprehensions of Africans from the African continent—more than 8,000 flying miles away. During the period January through August of this year, the apprehension of Africans in Mexico grew more than ten-fold, from 507 last year to 5,286 migrants this year. Most apprehended were from Cameroon or the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa).
Most of these immigrants are trying to reach the United States of course and have no intention of settling in Mexico. Africans flew halfway around the world to Brazil, then made the dangerous journey north through the Darien Gap—a remote, roadless swathe of jungle—before traversing Central America into Mexico in the hope of finally reaching the United States to claim asylum because of conflict in their home nations.
However, based on the U.S.’ tough immigration policies and its new agreement with Mexico, Mexican authorities have had their hands full trying to thwart these illegal migration attempts.
In one instance alone, on Saturday Oct. 12, some 2,000 migrants from various nations—including Central America, Africa and the Caribbean—were thwarted attempting to head north from southern Mexico with the hope of reaching the United States. They had set off on foot in the pre-dawn hours from the southern Mexican city of Tapachula.
It was the first such caravan since early 2019, as Mexico—under pressure from the Trump administration to curb U.S.-bound migration thorough its territory—has cracked down on Central Americans and others seeking to reach the United States.
Most had been camped out in tents in front of the main immigration detention facility in the town of Tapachula, in southern Mexico. But on reaching Tapachula, they have found themselves corralled into a detention center and told they couldn’t progress further without a permit that protects them for deportation and allows them to stay legally. Those permits are scarcer since Mexico agreed in June to help the Trump administration limit the number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The sad reality is, however, even if they reach the U.S. southern border and get to the front of a long line, Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy means even if they are hoping to seek asylum in the U.S. they must await their fate in Mexico.
According to the U.N.’s refugee agency, UNHCR, asylum applications in Mexico rose from 2,100 in 2014 to 48,000 for the first eight months of 2019. By the end of 2019, the number of asylum seekers to Mexico is expected to reach 80,000—that is double compared to figures in 2018. And it seems there is no end in sight for this problem created by Donald Trump and now unloaded on Mexico.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow