TIJUANA, Mexico – The migrant caravan, most of the members of which are currently in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, is continuing to fragment as in recent hours some 200 migrants asked to return to their countries, although thousands of others remain firm in their desire to request asylum in the US.
The decision by some migrants to return to their countries comes after the incidents on Sunday, when hundreds of Central Americans crossed the Tijuana River canal to try and climb over the border wall and enter the US illegally, an effort that was fended off by US authorities with tear gas.
Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reported on Tuesday that some 200 migrants agreed to voluntarily return to their countries with the help of civilian organizations and Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM).
The entity said that on Tuesday, 105 migrants had already boarded a Federal Police plane for Mexico City, from where they will be transferred by bus to the border with Guatemala.
“We have very few people from Guatemala and El Salvador. Of the 105, the majority are from Honduras. These are assisted voluntary returns, and there are other groups who are returning by land, like one that is leaving this afternoon,” INM commissioner Gerardo Leias Garcia said.
Later, 10 more people asked for assisted return and joined 70 migrants who had requested the same service on Monday night.
CNDH official Edgar Sosa said that the voluntary returns are being accomplished via a process of registration and full accreditation of the migrants’ nationalities through their embassies.
On Monday, the 98 migrants who had been detained – most of them Hondurans – after they allegedly participated in the confrontations with police and attempts to cross the US border were deported.
A group of migrants remaining in Tijuana criticized the detentions and deportations and on Tuesday issued a communique titled “We’re don’t want to return to violence,” referring to the violence in their homelands, which they fled.
“In Tijuana there are international organizations who take for granted that we’re not going to be able to enter the US and that we must be returned, but many (of us migrants say) we have to keep trying because they’re going to kill us if we return to our countries,” the group said.
“We’re fleeing the violence and impunity in our countries and now there are so many of us that it’s become a crisis. It’s an emergency and we need information to make the best decisions to protect our lives,” they said.
They also called on the authorities to halt the deportations and arbitrary detentions given that, according to the Tijuana police report, 164 Hondurans, 16 Guatemalans, 13 Salvadorans and a Nicaraguan had been detained.
Federal Police chief Manelich Castilla responded to the migrants’ complaints by saying that they must “do things correctly, so that nobody confuses them or calls on them to disrupt order and take part in demonstrations, as occurred on Sunday.”
As of Monday night, Mexican authorities tallied 5,851 people who were being housed in the shelter in northern Tijuana, including 3,754 men, 1,074 women and 1,023 children.