Central American migrants await asylum in southern Mexico

Article author: 
Christopher Sherman
Article publisher: 
Orange County Register
Article date: 
18 December 2016
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

Carlos Mejia sleeps on a bare mattress in an otherwise unfurnished room with his girlfriend and spreads a sheet on the cool tile for their two young children, a small respite from the sweltering heat. Their neighbors on both sides are Hondurans like them.

He receives $8 a day working 12 hours slicing plastic bottles to put into a compactor, enough to pay the electricity and water and buy some food. But the U.N. refugee agency picks up the rent and that of a growing number of immigrant families in this Mexican city of 32,000 people near the Guatemalan border.

Mejia is among more than 8,000 immigrants expected to seek asylum this year from Mexico, the majority fleeing gang violence in Honduras and El Salvador and to a lesser extent Guatemala. The exodus is turning southern Mexico towns like Tenosique as well as Palenque and Tapachula in neighboring Chiapas state into informal refugee camps.

The decision to settle in Mexico and not continue to the United States is tied to increased recognition of the risks of crossing Mexico and more recently the hostile rhetoric of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, the immigrants and their [Open Border] advocates say ...

The number of asylum applicants remains a fraction of the overall flow. More than 400,000 immigrants – mostly Central Americans – were apprehended along the U.S. southwestern border during the fiscal year that ended in September ...

Jimenez and her family made it to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, across the border from Texas on a previous trip. But they were eventually deported back to Honduras. The day after they arrived, they left again.

“Our idea was the United States, but with the situation as it is, I don’t think we can go to the United States,” Jimenez said, referring to Trump’s vows to deport millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally ...