Migrant crisis sparks friction, strains resources in Mexican cities

World Today

Thousands of migrants from Central America are clustered at Mexico’s border with the U.S. — hoping to win asylum in the U.S. Most of them traveled to the western city of Tijuana, which is safer.

But the chilly reception they’re receiving has prompted later arrivals to head to other crossing points which are more dangerous, and the strain of caring for them is pitting local officials against one another.

CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports on one shelter in the city of Reynosa.

Last September, Ernesto Turcios from Honduras was part of a Central American migrant caravan moving through Mexico, headed toward Tijuana, but today he’s at the other end of the border, in Tamaulipas state.

Hearing about the icy reception his compatriots were receiving, he and his family broke away from the caravan, and now they are part of more than 200 migrants stuck in a migrant shelter in Reynosa, one of the most dangerous cities in the country.

“We’ve been told it’s dangerous, so we don’t go outside,” Turcios said. “Criminals kidnap migrants and only return them when their families pay a ransom. Many people have arrived here after being beaten up and held for weeks, and they are in a very bad condition.”

Immigration officials in Tamaulipas say most of the migrants who have come there weren’t heading for their state but arrived only after a shelter was closed in the neighboring state of Coahuila.

“The government of Coahuila has sent groups of migrants to other towns in the region without informing the other states’ governments,” said Ricardo Calderon, the human rights chief for the Tamaulipas state government. “We only found out about these migrants after our state forces who work with deportees informed us of their arrival.”

The migrant crisis is pitting state authorities against each other, and local human rights organizations say no resolution is in sight.

“This section of the border is very dangerous for them, but more migrants appear to be arriving all the time,” said Antonio Moran with the organization, Reynosa Human Rights International. “Whenever a large group of people arrives in a city it destabilizes things because we aren’t prepared to care for them.”

As Central American migrants continue to cross Mexico, they must choose which city to aim for at the US border. Their reception by local authorities is not the only consideration; many now find themselves needing to appease local organized crime in Mexico, as well.