90 Miles From Tyranny : WINNING: Restrictive Mexican visas keep Central American migrants away from U.S. border

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Friday, May 10, 2019

WINNING: Restrictive Mexican visas keep Central American migrants away from U.S. border

MAPASTEPEC, Mexico, May 9 (UPI) -- Mexico has released hundreds of Central American migrants from a makeshift migrant detention center near Guatemala's border, giving them restrictive visas that keep them far away from the United States.

Mexico's government formerly permitted caravans of undocumented migrants to pass virtually unimpeded on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border. But that migrant-friendly approach angered U.S. President Donald Trump, who criticized Mexico's laxity in March and threatened to close the border if the flow did not stop.

In response, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obradoro said he did not want a confrontation with the Trump administration. The result has been stricter immigration enforcement, characterized by mass detentions of migrants in camps like the one just closed in Mapastepec.

The government closed the makeshift detention center at the city's municipal sports complex after it issued the migrants regional visitor visas -- and $200 in Mexican pesos for basic needs.

Migrants must wait in detention for Mexican immigration documents. Without them, they risk deportation to their home countries. Those who remained outside the camp Tuesday said they left their countries because of threats, persecution and violence.

"The gangs took my house and threatened my family, so we fled," said Brayan Rosales Hidalgo, 34, from Honduras, who had been traveling in a caravan with his 11-year-old son Anthony.

Rosales, who wants to join his brother in Tijuana, a city on the U.S.-Mexico border, said they had been in the camp since it opened in early April after federal police rounded up the caravan's members on a highway.

But for Rosales, strict immigration enforcement and regional visitor visas do not allow him to reach his brother. The regional visas are valid for only four southern states: Chiapas, Campeche, Tabasco and Quintano Roo. To reach the U.S. border, a migrant would have to travel at least 950 miles illegally, all the time facing the threat of capture and...

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