Migrants burst into southern Mexico asylum office demanding papers

TAPACHULA, Mexico — Migrants, mostly from Haiti, burst into an asylum office in southern Mexico on Monday, demanding papers.

Throngs of migrants knocked over metal barricades and rushed into the office in the city of Tapachula, pushing past National Guard officers and police stationed at the office. Some of the migrants were trampled by their colleagues in the rush.

No injuries were reported as authorities successfully persuaded many individuals to depart later on.

The tension comes as asylum claims in Mexico have skyrocketed, reaching over 100,000 so far this year.

Numerous migrants, predominantly from Cuba and Honduras, express their dissatisfaction as they have been compelled to endure lengthy waiting periods, sometimes spanning weeks, to secure an appointment at the office located in Tapachula, near the Guatemala border.

At the workplace managed by the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance, individuals seeking refuge can submit applications to seek asylum in Mexico. Nevertheless, the majority of them actually plan to utilize these documents as a means to travel to the U.S. border with increased safety and convenience.

Miguel Argoten, a Cuban migrant, expressed that the situation is highly intricate due to the large number of people present. He mentioned that the Haitians become desperate, leading them to topple the barricades, which ultimately hampers the progress.

Argoten mentioned that he had been patiently waiting for a week in Tapachula to initiate the process of applying for asylum. Lately, the office has been receiving approximately 2,000 daily requests for appointments.

The number of asylum applications in Mexico is expected to surpass previous records this year due to the increasing influx of migrants, posing a challenge for governments in various Latin American countries along the migration route.

Last week, Andrés Ramírez Silva, the director of Mexico’s refugee agency, stated that the number of asylum applications received by his agency this year may potentially reach 150,000, surpassing the previous record of 129,000 set in 2021.

“I cannot reword”

Last week, a group of migrants became disruptive while waiting and forcefully entered the agency’s offices. As a result, National Guard officers were called in to restore order, but their efforts were largely unsuccessful.

Ramírez Silva said Cubans, Haitians and Hondurans have made up about 80% of the asylum applications at the Tapachula office. He said his agency had asked the federal government for more resources to expand its capacity.

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