TAPACHULA, Mexico (AP) — Some 2,000 migrants, most Venezuelans, walked out of this southern Mexico city early Friday en masse to pressure authorities into allowing them to continue to the United States border at a time attention is focused on immigration.
The latest large public exit of migrants from Tapachula follows the discovery of an abandoned semitrailer in San Antonio with more than 60 migrants inside. Fifty-three of them died in the failed smuggling attempt.
It also comes a day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration did not err in ending the controversial Trump-era policy that forced some asylum seekers to wait out their cases in Mexico.
Following other mass movements of migrants from Tapachula last month, the Mexican government quickly negotiated to give them temporary documents.
“One hundred percent we go in honor of the migrants who have died, because we all know that it’s no secret for anyone that (the Texas victims) were also fighting for a future like we are,” said Jonatan Ávila, a migrant from Venezuela who helped organize the others.
Many migrants are no longer tolerating Mexico’s strategy of confining them to the south, far from the U.S. border. They complain that the process of regularizing their status -- usually by applying for asylum -- takes too long and with limited work available, they cannot afford to wait.
Dozens of National Guard troops watched them walk without intervening.
Doris Perdomo, another Venezuela migrant, traveling with her two young children, referred to Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling and said she had news — which was false — that U.S. President Joe Biden would allow all migrants to enter the United States.
“It came out in the news yesterday that Biden gave free passage, that he’s not going to return any migrants,” said Perdomo, who had been in Tapachula for a month trying to get papers.
The court ruling, however, was expected to have little immediate impact because the Biden administration had seldom applied the so-called Remain in Mexico policy during his presidency.
Another Trump-era policy that remains in effect and was not affected by Thursday’s ruling allows the government to quickly expel migrants without a chance to ask for asylum — casting aside U.S. law and an international treaty — on grounds of containing the spread of COVID-19. There have been more than 2 million expulsions since the pandemic-era rule, known as Title 42 authority, was introduced in March 2020.
While migrant caravans have garnered media attention, the migrants traveling in them represent a tiny fraction of the migratory flow that carries people to the U.S. border every day, usually with the help of smugglers.