Mi­grants de­mand­ing buses to US bor­der

Woonsocket Call - - VALLEY/NATION -

MEX­ICO CITY (AP) — Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants in a car­a­van that has stopped in Mex­ico City de­manded buses Thurs­day to take them to the U.S. bor­der, say­ing it is too cold and dan­ger­ous to con­tinue walk­ing and hitch­hik­ing.

About 200 mi­grants, rep­re­sent­ing the roughly 5,000 stay­ing in a sta­dium in the south of Mex­ico’s cap­i­tal, marched to the United Na­tions of­fice in Mex­ico City to make the de­mand for trans­porta­tion.

The of­fice was closed when the mi­grants ar­rived, but a dozen were re­ceived by U.N. rep­re­sen­ta­tives at a nearby lo­ca­tion, said Il­berto Sosa Montes, a 45-yearold Hon­duran who is one of car­a­van’s co­or­di­na­tors.

“We need buses to con­tinue trav­el­ing,” said Mil­ton Ben­itez, a car­a­van co­or­di­na­tor. Ben­itez noted that it would be colder in north­ern Mex­ico and it wasn’t safe for the mi­grants to con­tinue along high­ways, where drug car­tels fre­quently op­er­ate.

“This is a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis and they are ig­nor­ing it,” Ben­itez said as the group ar­rived at the U.N. of­fice.

The plan was that when the mi­grant del­e­ga­tion re­turned to the sta­dium, roughly a three­hour walk from the U.N. of­fice, the mi­grants would gather in an assem­bly to de­cide when they would leave Mex­ico City and what route they would take to the U.S. bor­der. But the meet­ing with U.N. of­fi­cials was con­tin­u­ing into the evening Thurs­day, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the U.N. and the car­a­van con­firmed.

The Mex­i­can govern­ment has said most of the mi­grants have re­fused of­fers to stay in Mex­ico, and only a small num­ber have agreed to re­turn to their home coun­tries. About 85 per­cent of the mi­grants are from Hon­duras, while oth­ers are from the Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­tries of Gu­atemala, El Sal­vador and Nicaragua.

“Cal­i­for­nia is the long­est route but is the best bor­der, while Texas is the clos­est but the worst” bor­der, said Jose Luis Fuentes of the Na­tional Lawyers Guild to gath­ered mi­grants.

There have al­ready been re­ports of mi­grants on the car­a­van go­ing miss­ing, though that is of- ten be­cause they hitch rides on trucks that turn off on dif­fer­ent routes, leav­ing them lost.

How­ever, the U.N. hu­man rights agency said its of­fice in Mex­ico had filed a re­port with pros­e­cu­tors in the cen­tral state of Puebla about two buses that mi­grants boarded in the last leg of the trip to Mex­ico City early this week, and whose where­abouts are not known.

Mex­ico City is it­self more than 600 miles from the near­est U.S. bor­der cross­ing at McAllen, Texas, and a pre­vi­ous car­a­van in the spring opted for a much longer route to Ti­juana in the far north­west, across from San Diego. That car­a­van steadily dwin­dled to only about 200 peo­ple by the time it reached the bor­der.

Ac­tivists and of­fi­cials ex­plained the op­tions avail­able to mi­grants in Mex­ico, which has of­fered them refuge, asy­lum or work visas. The govern­ment said 2,697 tem­po­rary visas had been is­sued to in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies to cover them while they wait for the 45-day ap­pli­ca­tion process for a more per­ma­nent sta­tus.

Thurs­day’s meet­ing with U.N. rep­re­sen­ta­tives comes two days after U.S. midterm elec­tions in which Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had con­verted the mi­grants into a cam­paign is­sue, por­tray­ing them as a ma­jor threat.

Mar­lon Ivan Men­dez, a farm worker from Copan, Hon­duras, was wait­ing in line for do­nated shoes to re­place the worn crocs he has used since leav­ing his coun­try three weeks ago. He said he left be­cause gangs were charg­ing him rent to live in his own home.

“It is not fair that the good ones pay for the sin­ners,” Men­dez said of fears that gang mem­bers are com­ing with the car­a­van.

Christo­pher Gas­con, the Mex­ico rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion, es­ti­mated there are per­haps an­other 4,000 in car­a­vans that are work­ing their way through south­ern Mex­ico.

Dar­win Pereira, a 23-yearold con­struc­tion worker from Olan­chito, Hon­duras, left his coun­try with his wife and son, 4, for the very sim­ple rea­son that “there is no work there.”

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