Protesting migrants in southern Mexico threaten to form new caravan

Hundreds of migrants in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula on Thursday protested against the slow pace of government visa approvals and threatened to form a fresh caravan that would head to the U.S. border.

The migrants, mostly from Haiti and parts of Latin America, have been stuck in Tapachula, in Chiapas state, while enduring lengthy waits for asylum and visa requests to be resolved.

The migrants protested outside the offices of Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) in Tapachula, near the Guatemala border, to demand documents that would regularize their stay in Mexico or let them cross without being detained.

“The disorder is being caused by (the authorities)….They are playing with us,” William, a young Salvadoran who identified himself as an organizer of the protest, told Reuters.

William, who declined to give his last name, said if there was no response the migrants would move out this week.

Amid pressure from Washington, Mexico has tried to stem large waves of migrants traveling in U.S.-bound caravans.

“It’s criminal they have us like this. There are many children. We are in the sun, without food, without a place to sleep. This is inhumane,” said a Venezuelan woman in the crowd.

Many migrants fleeing their homelands want to reach the United States. Others seek refuge and protection in Mexico.

Responding to the protest, the INM said in a statement that “there is no need for marches or demonstrations” in Tapachula for migrants to complete their paperwork.

Mexico was also considering stiffer laws for smugglers, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said on Thursday, after Guatemala’s Congress this week toughened prison sentences for human traffickers to up to 30 years.

“Yesterday there was communication with the Mexican Foreign Ministry, who asked us for the law so that they could try to toughen their penalties,” Giammattei said.

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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