Too good to be true? Caravan dissolves as Mexico promises work visas, relocation to migrants

There may be some progress in stopping the flood of migrants heading to the southern U.S. border through Mexico. Or maybe not. We will soon know but for now, there are some encouraging signs that Mexico is stepping up to help.

On Tuesday night, an agreement was announced with thousands of migrants in one of two large caravans headed to the U.S. border from southern Mexico. The migrants accepted an offer from the Mexican government of visas in exchange for quitting the caravan. One of two large migrant caravans, most of them are from Central America and the Caribbean. They left the southern city of Tapachula in recent weeks to travel to the U.S. border. The caravans are mostly families, including young children. A joint statement was issued by the interior ministry and the national migration institute. The Mexican government proposed to “begin the process that will allow them to regularize their legal status.”

By Tuesday, this group had progressed as far as the town of Mapastepec in the southern state of Chiapas, under the guidance of caravan organizer Luis Garcia Villagran from advocacy group Pueblo Sin Fronteras.

Garcia told Reuters that most of the migrants in the caravan had accepted the offer and officials would eventually bus them out of Chiapas, distributing them across 10 states. The government statement, however, listed nine states.

In exchange for the deal, the organizers agreed not to assemble more caravans in future, a Mexican migration official said later, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sound too good to be true? It may be. Garcia denied there was a deal made and the joint statement from the government didn’t mention a deal. Another caravan was already ready to leave Tapachula, a city on the border with Guatemala used by migrants to move through Mexico. Earlier, Garcia did acknowledge that the Mexican government’s offer of transportation and visas was a positive move. Mexican migration officials said that an earlier group of Haitian and Honduran migrants was taken Tuesday to Guanajuato, a state about 600 miles away.

Reuters now reports that a new caravan formed on Friday in the state of Chiapas, near the Guatemala border. They are walking north to the U.S. border. They say they have not been given humanitarian visas as promised by Mexican authorities or been transferred to other parts of Mexico.

About 1,000 migrants, many carrying children, early on Friday began walking from Tapachula, a city bordering Guatemala, to Mapastepec, about 100 km away (62.1 miles), where they plan to join another group of migrants, caravan organizers said.

“We need to work to support our family and that is why we decided to do this, to leave in the caravan,” said one Haitian migrant, accompanied by his wife and family members, who declined to be identified.

Luis Garcia, one of the caravan organizers, said about 1,500 people are expected to head north from Mapastepec on Tuesday. In the past, migrants have refused to accept government aid because of the fear of being deported.

The Remain in Mexico program is supposed to be reinstated soon. Biden has been ordered to begin the program again even though his administration fought it all the way to the Supreme Court. Biden made good on a campaign promise to end the Trump era program in the first days of his administration. Bumbling and inept DHS Secretary Mayorkas even admitted that the program works as the administration tried again and again to end it. Under court order, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, a.k.a. Remain in Mexico, could be reinstated in the coming days. Mexico has some “requests” first before it signs on to restart the program.

“The government of Mexico … has raised various concerns of a humanitarian nature regarding the asylum procedure in the United States,” the Mexican Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Among conditions, Mexico asked to accelerate development programs for southern Mexico and Central America in order to address the root causes of migration.

Mexico also requested that Washington offer migrants medical attention and vaccination against COVID-19; respect designated return points; provide “additional resources” for shelters and non-governmental organizations to improve the conditions for migrants waiting in Mexico; and provide legal advice for the migrants so that their processes can “be carried out as expeditiously as possible.”

“The Government of Mexico emphasizes that … it requires the Government of the United States to promptly address these humanitarian measures,” said the Foreign Ministry.

“The Ministry of Foreign Relations (…) awaits a formal response from the United States government,” he added.

Where’s Kamala? She’s the one who is supposed to be in charge of the “root causes of migration” trope. Many administrations have sent millions of American taxpayer dollars to Central American countries only to have the problems grow because the money doesn’t make its way to the people who need the help. The money that the programs are to fund doesn’t materialize and corrupt politicians pocket the money. This has been going on for decades. Kamala won’t be able to cackle her way into sustainable solutions with political leadership in the region. “Don’t come” was her big message in her earlier trip to the region, remember? Brilliant.

I’d like to think that Mexico is making an attempt to work as a partner again, as it did during the Trump administration, but with Biden’s reputation as a world leader who doesn’t live up to his word, (thanks to his botched and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan), this Mexican effort may not last long. Who can blame Mexico for trying to get what they can in the deal now? If Biden hadn’t been so pigheaded about undoing all of the previous administration’s work in securing the southern border, the program would still be in place, and the Biden border crisis would never have happened.

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