Christmas Day means the same as any other day for thousands of immigrants Walking through southern Mexico: More walking in the hot sun.
There were no gifts, and Christmas Eve dinner consisted of a sandwich, a bottle of water and a banana, which the Catholic Church distributed to some migrants in the town of Alvaro Obregon, in the southern state of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala.
Migrants spent Christmas Eve sleeping on a piece of cardboard or plastic lying under an awning or tent, or under the bare ground.
In the morning, he would rise as usual at 4 a.m., get an early start and avoid the worst of the heat, and walk to the next town, Huixtla, 20 miles (30 km) away.
Carla Ramirez, a migrant from Honduras who was traveling with two other adults and four children, arrived in Álvaro Obregon too late Sunday to get any of the food the church was providing. So they had to buy as little as they could afford.
“It was sad: We had never been on the street before,” Ramirez said. “Our Christmas dinner was mortadella, butter, tomatoes, with tortillas.”
Mariela Amaya's seven-year-old son didn't understand why they had to spend Christmas this way. Amaya, also from Honduras, squeezed her tired and rebellious son's hand as they walked.
“They don't understand why we have to do this to have a better life,” Amaya said. She added that the governments of Mexico and the United States had not done so either.
“Why can’t they help us? We need their help,” she said.
What little help came from local families, one of whom distributed tamales – a traditional seasonal food – and water to passing migrants.
immigrants Single adults included But also entire families, all eager to reach the US border, angry and frustrated at having to wait weeks or months in the nearby city of Tapachula for documents that might allow them to continue their journey.
Mexico claims it does not grant transit visas, but migrants are still hoping for some kind of documentation so they can at least board buses to the border.
“This journey has been very difficult for us migrants. We need the (Mexican) immigration office and the government to take pity on us and give us a safe passage,” said Jessica Garcia, a migrant from Venezuela.
Mexico says it detected 680,000 migrants moving through the country in the first 11 months of 2023.
The migrant caravan that set off on Sunday, which included about 6,000 people, was the largest since June 2022, when a similar-sized group left Tapachula.
Like the 2022 caravan — which began when US President Joe Biden hosted leaders in Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas — this year's Christmas caravan came just days before US officials meet with their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City to explore ways to stem the number of migrants showing up at the southern border. Western United States.
The Mexican government has already announced that it is willing to help try to prevent migrants from crossing Mexico; The government had little choice after thatr US officials briefly shut down Two vital rail border crossings in Texas, allegedly overloaded with migrant processing.
This squeezed shipments from Mexico to the United States, as well as grain needed to feed Mexican cattle heading south. The railway crossings have since reopened, but the message was clear.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is expected to arrive in Mexico City on Wednesday to reach new agreements to control the situation A wave of immigrants Seeking entry into the United States. The US delegation will also include Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and White House Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood Randall.
This month, up to 10,000 migrants were apprehended daily at the southwestern US border.
In May, Mexico agreed to this It receives immigrants From countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, who have been rejected by the United States for not following rules that provide new legal pathways to asylum and other forms of migration.
But this deal, aimed at curbing the post-pandemic migration surge, appears insufficient as numbers rise again, disrupting bilateral trade and stoking anti-immigrant sentiment among conservative voters in the United States.
The number of arrests for illegal crossing has exceeded two million in each of the US government's last two fiscal years, reflecting technological changes that have made it easier for immigrants to leave their homelands to escape poverty, natural disasters, political repression, and organized crime.
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