Mexican border agents and the police stopped a caravan of hundreds migrants who set out from southernmost Mexico on Sunday. This was the fourth raid of this caravan by Mexican authorities in recent days.
About 800 people, mostly Central Americans, Haitians and Venezuelans, were present at the basketball court in Huixtla. It is located 40 km (25 miles) from Tapachula, where they were kept in limbo awaiting processing by Mexican immigration officers.
Just before dawn, however, police with anti-riot gear and immigration agents entered the crowd pushing many people into trucks.
Many migrants ran toward the river, but they were stopped by the trees and fled.
“They began hitting me all over,” said a woman in tears. She claimed that her husband was also beaten and one of her daughters was taken from her by police.
She told the Associated Press camera crew, “Until they give my daughter, I won’t leave.” Immigration agents detained the couple, their husband and other children.
After traveling north in a caravan, the group was frustrated by the slow pace and disintegration of the previous week.
Two immigration agents were suspended after the government claimed that the excessive use of force against a Haitian immigrant captured on video over the weekend was an aberration.
Mexico has been facing immigration pressures from the south, north and within its borders in recent weeks. Thousands of migrants have crossed Mexico’s southern border. The United States has also sent thousands back from the North. A U.S. court ordered that the Biden administration renew its policy of making long-term asylum seekers wait in Mexico.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President of Mexico, said Thursday that the strategy of containing migrants from the south was not sustainable and that more investment is required in the region to prevent Central Americans leaving their homes.
In recent weeks, thousands of mostly Haitian migrants have protested more frequently in Tapachula. Many of these migrants have waited for months, sometimes even a year, to receive asylum requests.
Mexico’s refugee agency is overwhelmed. More than 77,000 people applied for protected status in Mexico this year. 55,000 of them were in Tapachula where shelters are full.
Hundreds fled north after being unable to legally work and feeling frustrated by the delays and poor conditions.