Haitian and African Migrants Bring Squalor to Tapachula

We reported on May 9 that the government of Mexico is attempting to restrict the northward progress of migrants who have entered the country from the south.

The practice of issuing visas good only for Mexico’s southern region, combined with enforcement of long-neglected immigration laws, has resulted in the establishment of what UPI is calling a “squalid shantytown” in the city of Tapachula.  Curiously, this “shantytown” is populated not by Central American migrants but largely by Haitians and Africans, numbering in the thousands. These migrants arrive by air in Ecuador, which requires no visa. They then make their way along the Pan-American Highway up to and through the notorious “Darien Gap,” a 60-mile stretch of no-man’s-land jungle where the highway is unfinished. Eventually, those who make it through are stopped in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, of which Tapachula is one of the major cities.

In and around Tapachula, they squat, living on the streets and in makeshift shelters, defecating in the open, washing themselves in streams, and spreading filth and disease that have begun to alarm the native population.

One convenience store proprietor declared, “Piles of trash are everywhere and people are defecating near to where they have to sleep. I’m worried about everybody’s health, my family’s and theirs.”

The migrants themselves express one desire beyond the wish for an improvement in immediate living conditions: to get to the United States.  One Angolan who was interviewed said she wants to claim asylum in the United States and that she “has contacts in Portland, Maine.”  Another, a Haitian who had run into “political” trouble back home, said he and his family had spent the past 10 months in Chile, but “I really want to get to New York .”

Meanwhile, according to UPI, the “stench of rotting trash and human feces pervades the air” around the shantytown, and no one in officialdom seems to know what to do.

For more, see UPI.com.

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