MEXICO CITY – Leaders of human rights groups held a press conference here Thursday to denounce the Mexican government for what they called a secretive, inconsistent and confused policy toward Central American migrants crossing the Aztec nation to reach the United States.
“We demand that the Mexican state clarify its migration policies,” Quetzalcoatl Fontanot, speaking for the Red TDT coalition, told reporters.
Fontanot, accompanied by representatives from nearly a dozen organizations, urged the government to “stop turning in circles and to permit, as soon as possible, the visit of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission to the detention centers on the southern and northern borders.”
Advocates are concerned not only by the way authorities deal with the migrants, but also by the government’s lack of respect for the “human rights of those of us who are helping these people,” Fontanot said.
Migrants, according to the speakers at the press conference, are being denied basic rights and those who are in custody, including minors, must endure poor conditions.
Last Friday, reacting to persistent problems in gaining access to migration stations on the southern border and in Mexico City, the Mexican branch of Amnesty International published an open letter to the INM immigration agency requesting guarantees.
The INM responded on Monday by formally suspending access to migration stations for all NGOs. Hours later, the agency said that it would “reschedule” visits to its facilities by rights organizations and other advocacy groups.
“We have very reasonable doubts about the reason to not allow civil society organizations to enter. It is so we don’t witness the disorder that goes on in the migration stations that we euphemistically call shelters,” AI Mexico director Tania Reneaum said at Thursday’s event.
Alejandra Macias, of the group Asylum Access Mexico, said that migrants who request legal aid suffer reprisals.
The press conference came a day after the INM said that civic and religious organizations would again be allowed to enter migrant detention facilities starting Feb. 1.
On Thursday, the INM said that contingents of foreigners were received in an orderly manner at migration stations and assisted in applying to remain in Mexico.
The statement added, however, that “in the majority of cases and once the particular migration condition is reviewed, we will proceed to the orderly return to their countries of origin when the situation warrants.”
More than 2,300 Hondurans were repatriated during the period from Jan. 18-27, the statement said.
The INM said that its handling of migrants is being monitored by the UN Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration, UNICEF and Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission, among other bodies.
On the southern border, the INM and Mexico’s National Guard recently thwarted the entry of a migrant caravan originating in Honduras.