The Catholic Church’s first point of assistance for migrants arriving in Mexico

Migrants in Mexico Migrants in Mexico | Catholic Relief Services

Tapachula, a town in Mexico’s Chiapas state, sees the greatest influx of migrants from other countries heading north and is the Catholic Church’s first point of assistance for migrants in the country.

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez of San Cristóbal de Las Casas said that the Catholic Church helps migrants arriving in the country through dioceses and parishes in collaboration with institutions such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Located within 10 miles of the Guatemalan border, Tapachula is about 270 miles south of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. 

The Church’s shelters for migrants, the prelate said, offer migrants “accommodations, food, psychological and legal advice.”

“Those who want to change their thoughts of going to the United States and rather have a job in Mexico, are helped to take that route,” he said, “taking advantage of the help offered by UNHCR.”

In addition, the Church offers them medical assistance, Aguilar said, because migrants often “arrive with the flu, overwhelmed by cold, heat, or rain.”

The migrants may also have difficulties “due to problems with blisters or if they’ve banged their foot or knee, and have limitations to keep on walking. They’re helped so they can get going again,” he noted.

The flow of migrants, he explained, is variable in the region, and is affected by “climate and sociopolitical situations in the country, with attitudes at the governmental, municipal, state, and federal levels.”

“The situation in the United States” plays a key role, he added.

Normally, migrants stay in the shelters provided by the Church for a day and a night, Aguilar said, because “what they want is to stay as little as possible to continue their journey.”

However, he said, some people “do need to spend more days in order to recover for health reasons or above all when they want to go through a legal process.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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