MEXICO CITY – A caravan of thousands of Central American migrants who are making their way through Mexico en route to that country’s border with the United States has rejected a plan by President Enrique Peña Nieto that would regularize those people’s situation in the Aztec nation.
On Saturday, the caravan is heading from the southern state of Chiapas to San Pedro Tapanatepec, a town in the neighboring state of Oaxaca.
After holding an assembly in the town of Arriaga, Chiapas state, the migrants responded to the plan in a statement issued Friday by civil organizations.
“This plan does not truly respond to the causes of the Central American exodus and therefore does not solve (migrants’) needs from the standpoint of fully respecting their human rights,” the statement said, insisting that the plan be expanded so it includes “all of Mexico.”
“We don’t want more prison cities or states where migrant persons are confined without the freedom to move or settle where they can lead a dignified life.”
The caravan is calling for a dialogue in Mexico City between its members and Mexican federal authorities so migrants have a space to express their concerns and an agreement can be reached.
On Friday, Peña Nieto unveiled a plan known as “Estas en Tu Casa” (This Is Your Home) to facilitate migrants’ ability to seek asylum in Mexico, a measure especially intended for those who are part of the caravan that plans to reach the US.
Migrants who are currently in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca will be offered a window to go to an office of the National Migration Institute (INM) to start the asylum process.
Under the plan, those who register for asylum would be provided with medical attention and be eligible for temporary ID cards and work permits.
“I want to say first of all that Mexicans are a welcoming people who show solidarity with those going through difficult moments,” Peña Nieto said from the Los Pinos presidential palace in a pre-recorded address broadcast Friday.
“Being in Mexico, you will be able to receive medical attention and even send your children to school; you also will have a temporary official ID to carry out the necessary procedures while you regularize your migration situation,” he added, noting that the ID card would allow migrants to enter and leave shelters whenever they choose.
Two conditions must be met for a migrant to be eligible for temporary work permits.
That individual must be in Chiapas or Oaxaca and he or she (or a family member) must have submitted a request to the INM for asylum.
A caravan of around 7,000 Central American migrants is current traveling across southern Mexico with the intention of reaching the United States.
In addition to that first contingent, another group of around 2,500 people is in the vicinity of the Guatemala-Mexico border.
US President Donald Trump has vowed that, if necessary, he will use the military to close the US-Mexico border.
“To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally. Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!” Trump said in his latest tweet on the subject on Thursday.