Another caravan has left Tapachula, Chiapas, this time with more than 500 migrants hoping to reach the United States. It is the first caravan of 2022 to leave the southern border city.
The group left the National Immigration Institute (INM) offices on Thursday, January 20th, and started marching north. Members of the group said that they applied for documents that would allow them to legally leave Tapachula and travel freely through Mexico, but received no response to their applications, according to Milenio.
The group is comprised primarily of Central Americans, with some Venezuelans, Columbians, Haitians, and some other citizens of African countries joining their ranks.
Some of the migrants said they had been directed to go to the Mexican refugee commission (COMAR) to begin the required paperwork, but that it could take up to three months to get an appointment. In the meantime, the migrants are not permitted to leave the city or work.
The group left Tapachula on foot with no food or water, expressing their hope that human rights and migrant aid organizations would help them on the journey. Earlier the same day, many of the migrants participated in a march through the city in a bid to draw attention to their predicament. The marchers requested that the federal government provide them a way to regularize their immigration status and/or papers that would allow them to travel through the country.
Tapachula, located near the border with Guatemala, has become a focal point of the immigration crisis. Numerous caravans have originated in the city, as frustrated migrants head north, some seeking to stay in Mexico and many others hoping to reach the United States.
In December, the INM reported that more than 4,000 migrants were crossing the border daily and COMAR has been overwhelmed by a flood of asylum requests — more than 130,000 in 2021. Meanwhile, on the northern border, the U.S. office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) took more than 1.7 million undocumented immigrants into custody in the 2021 fiscal year, an all-time record.