Mi­grants re­ject Mex­ico’s of­fer of work, shel­ter

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Stay Connected - BY CHRISTO­PHER SHER­MAN

ARRIAGA, MEX­ICO

More than a hun­dred Mex­i­can fed­eral of­fi­cers car­ry­ing plas­tic shields aban­doned a block­ade they had formed on a bridge Satur­day, al­low­ing a car­a­van of thou­sands of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants to ad­vance to­ward the United States.

The of­fi­cers ended the stand­off af­ter rep­re­senta- tives from Mex­ico’s Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion told po­lice that a ru­ral stretch of high­way with­out shade, toi­lets or wa­ter was no place for mi­grants to en­ter­tain of­fers of asy­lum in Mex­ico. Po­lice boarded buses and headed fur­ther down the high­way, while mi­grants cheered and vowed to trek all the way to the U.S. bor­der.

Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto be­gan a pro­gram Fri­day dubbed “You are home,” which promises shel­ter, med­i­cal at­ten­tion, school­ing and jobs to Cen­tral Amer­i­cans who agree to stay in the south­ern Mex­ico states of Chi­a­pas or Oax­aca.

Po­lice com­mis­sioner Ben­jamin Gra­jeda said that au­thor­i­ties only blocked the high­way Satur­day to tell peo­ple about the gov­ern­ment’s of­fer. “Here in this truck right now you can get help,” he said.

Thou­sands of mi­grants in the city of Arriaga re­jected the plan Fri­day night, but said they could be will­ing to dis­cuss it again once they reach Mex­ico City. Some fear they will be de­ported if they take ad­van­tage of the pro­gram.

The car­a­van is now try­ing to strike out for Ta­panate­pec, about 29 miles up the road.

Or­be­lina Orel­lana, a mi­grant from Hon­duras, said she and her hus­band left three chil­dren be­hind and de­cided to con­tinue north one way or an­other.

RO­DRIGO ABD AP

Mem­bers of a U.S.-bound mi­grant car­a­van cross a bridge be­tween the Mex­i­can states of Chi­a­pas and Oax­aca af­ter fed­eral po­lice briefly blocked them out­side the town of Arriaga on Satur­day.

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