TAPACHULA, Mexico – Mexican officials detected more than 200 pregnant women among the migrants who entered Mexico in the last four months over the southern border, which has been closed down this weekend by the National Guard.
“We have detected over 200, many of whom continued on their way while the pregnancies of others were so far along they had to be taken to General Hospital,” the head of Tapachula healthcare, Gabriel Ocampo Gonzalez, told EFE
During this time more than a dozen babies have been born, all of them “Mexicans of foreign mothers,” Ocampo said with reference to the law that grants Mexican citizenship to anyone born in this country.
Ocampo said that among the pregnant women left at Mexico’s southern border are citizens of Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras and also of the Congo, though he said he does not possess a complete count of those cases.
The healthcare official said that by having children born in Mexico, parents have the right to obtain citizenship, which helps straighten out the nation’s migratory status.
Healthcare authorities in Chiapas and other refugee centers in the area take control of the pregnant women and look after them until the birth of their babies, who are mostly cared for at Tapachula General Hospital.
Pregnant women and new fathers are lodged in shelters like the Jesus the Good Shepherd refuge, run by the founder Olga Sanchez Martinez, and the so-called 21st Century, a temporary facility in the Mesoamerican Fair area.
Of Tapachula’s eight shelters, the only one where the situation of the infants and new parents could be observed was in the Jesus the Good Shepherd refuge.
Notable in the teeming space packed with more than 700 people are 250 children and 260 women, the other occupants being men between ages 20 and 50.
This shelter has received dozens of pregnant women, the founder said, with the most recent being the young Honduran Clarisa Wenster, 20, who has just had her baby and already has Mexican nationality after what she called a very tough pilgrimage.
“It was hard – I suffered hunger, thirst, exhaustion, the people were mean. I was in the hospital for seven days because my little girl was premature,” Clarisa said.
Her husband, the Honduran Carlos Zuñiga, told EFE that he and Clarisa feel like they are “tied hand and foot” because they can’t go out to work.
She said that while they are now getting what they need to become residents thanks to the nationality of their baby daughter, they still have to pay the cost required by Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (Inami) to be given their papers.
“We’re surviving here on what the shelter gives us, we’re helping out here, but we can’t go out because the migration cops will detain us, and that makes me afraid, afraid of losing my family if they detain and deport me,” Carlos Zuñiga said.
Like this couple, other women whose babies were born during these months in Mexico still face the stigma of being here illegally until they complete the procedure, while there are other new parents who choose to stay on the road to the northern border.
Many Haitians, Salvadorans, and Hondurans who have lived here illegally for months are now applying for temporary residence or asylum in Mexico.
To do that, they must undergo a process of, first, remaining in the area and second, finding a job to justify their stay.
Meanwhile the National Guard has been deployed to all of Mexico’s municipalities on the border with Guatemala, which has led to a diminishing flow of migrants, something Mexico is trying to achieve in order to keep the United States from imposing tariffs on all its products.
On the banks of the Usumacinta River, the natural border between Mexico and Guatemala, the number of migrants has dropped considerably and only sporadic groups are to be seen trying to cross however they can.
According to regulations established by the National Institute of Migration, immigration procedures are slow and only allow the entry of foreigners with documents that clearly authorize their stay.