By Jose Luiz Gonzalez
TAPACHULA, Mexico – Hundreds of Central American and Haitian migrants formed a new caravan on Friday in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, near the Guatemala border, and began walking north toward the United States.
The migrants said they wanted to leave Chiapas as they had not been given humanitarian visas promised by Mexico or transferred to other parts of the country where they would have better living conditions.
About 1,000 migrants, many carrying children, early on Friday began walking from Tapachula, a city bordering Guatemala, to Mapastepec, about 100 km away (62.1 miles), where they plan to join another group of migrants, caravan organizers said.
A day earlier, Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) began transferring hundreds of migrants to other parts of the country after they had spent months waiting in Tapachula for a response to requests for refuge or humanitarian visas.
The migrants were also offered documents for a temporary legal stay in Mexico that would allow them to look for jobs, defusing threats to start walking toward the U.S. border.
However, many migrants in Tapachula were not transferred elsewhere or did not receive humanitarian visas, and they joined those heading toward the United States.
“We need to work to support our family and that is why we decided to do this, to leave in the caravan,” said one Haitian migrant, accompanied by his wife and family members, who declined to be identified.
Luis Garcia, one of the caravan organizers, said about 1,500 people are expected to head north from Mapastepec on Tuesday. In the past, migrants have refused to accept government aid because of the fear of being deported.
Earlier on Friday, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) said it discovered that last year at least three Haitian asylum seekers in Mexico were deported to their country.
The Mexican National Migration Institute did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment about the cases.
(Reporting by José Luis González; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Leslie Adler)