Mexican bishops say government proposal of 'humanitarian camp' for migrants is unilateral

shutterstock 1119750086 Central American migrants and asylum seekers prepare to board a freight train in Oaxaca, Mexico. | Joseph Sorrentino / Shutterstock

The bishops of Mexico on Thursday said that a proposal of the Instituto Nacional de Migración to establish a "humanitarian camp" for migrants at the country’s southern border is unilateral, and they have yet to agree to it. 

The INM, which operates under Mexico's Secretariat of the Interior, had said Sept. 1 that "the process of communication and agreements with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) in Mexico and the Pastoral Ministry for Human Mobility of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference" has begun to "set up a humanitarian camp for Haitian migrants in Chiapas.”

The Pastoral Ministry for Human Mobility of the Mexican bishops’ conference said Sept. 2 that  "the proposal for a 'humanitarian camp' is an initiative created by the Instituto Nacional de Migración itself," and that the bishops have not yet “agreed to or accepted it.” 

The bishops’ ministry to migrants “is concerned about the conditions in which migrants find themselves in Tapachula: overcrowding, the lack of security or work, which can lead to violations of these people’s human rights.”

Located in Chiapas state, Tapachula is a short distance from the border with Guatemala, where most Central American and Haitian migrants enter Mexico.

The constant flow of migrants trying to enter Mexico through the southern border has caused conflict in recent weeks.

On Aug. 28, INM and National Guard agents responded with violence as they tried to block hundreds of Haitian and Central American migrants attempting to leave Tapachula to make their way north through Mexico to the United States..

Two INM agents were suspended for their wrongdoing against the migrants.

The bishops' ministry to migrants reiterated in its statement "our availability to dialogue with the Government of Mexico for the benefit of migrants."

"We insist that alternatives should be implemented to regularize the stay of migrants, such as a migratory regularization program, as well as respecting the right to free movement contained (in) Article 11 of our Magna Carta," they concluded.

Under the Trump administration’s threat of imposing rising tariffs on Mexican exports to the United States, Mexico agreed in June 2019 to deploy 6,000 troops at its southern border with Guatemala to stem the flow of Central American migrants to the US.

Mexico has not changed that policy, even though migration is easier under the Biden administration.

In August 2019, Bishop José Guadalupe Torres Campos of Ciudad Juárez, head of the Pastoral Ministry for Human Mobility, said that many migrants entering Mexico with the hope of reaching the United States "are detained at the southern border of Mexico through the human wall of the National Guard.”

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