In late March, a group of 50 - 70 migrants gathered in the courtyard of the Siglo XXI Migratory Station in Tapachula, Chiapas to protest the indefinite extension of detention times, demanding the detainees be released or returned to their countries of origin. The protesters expressed their fear of contracting Covid-19 and announced their intention to start a hunger strike if they were not released. The protest was dissipated by the internal security brigade and the National Guard, who used water jets and pepper spray against the protestors.
“People have realized that vulnerabilities are created and that they’re an injustice. They’re caused by government policies that do not recognize people and their rights. At the end of the day, populations aren’t born vulnerable, they are made vulnerable. Why? Because their rights are denied.”
- Alberto Xicotencatl, Director of Casa Del Migrante Saltillo
Restrictive and dangerous US policies, such as the Remain in Mexico protocol and “safe third country” agreements have left vulnerable asylum seekers in increasing danger. Since January 2019, more than 50,000 asylum seekers have been relocated to high-density regions of Mexico, with overcrowding and precarious living arrangements increasing the risk of a devastating outbreak. Since the declaration of a “health emergency by force majeure” on 30 March, reports of violence against migrants have increased throughout the country. There has also been an increase in the number of attacks against human rights defenders, who many migrants and refugees depend on. Nine have been murdered since the declaration.
Due to the ongoing security situation, PBI has been responding to a request for accompaniment from the Casa del Migrante de Saltillo (House of the Migrant in Saltillo) since 2014. Since 2002, they have been fighting for the human rights of migrants traveling from Central America through Mexico to reach the United States. The Casa del Migrante was created in Saltillo after a wave of assassinations of Central American migrants. In 2011, the National Human Rights Commission documented 214 cases of kidnappings, involving a total of 11,333 migrants.
PBI provides the space at the local, national, and international levels to enable the Casa to defend human rights in a manner that is safe, acknowledged, and sustainable. PBI will continue to advocate on behalf of the Casa with local authorities to grant them the recognition and protection needed to carry out their work.