African Migrants Are Banding Together To Protest As Mexican Officials Continue To Deny Necessary Paperwork To Enter U.S.
Donald Trump's policies and rhetoric about the border have applied pressure.
African migrants joined protests in Tapachula, Mexico, where policy changes for migration have left many stuck. For just over a week, migrants have demanded documentation, so they can travel north into the United States and Canada.
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When elected in December 2018, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised a gentler approach to undocumented migrants, a promise that has since been dismissed due to threats of tariffs and border closures from President Donald Trump.
This heightened level of precaution led to Mexican officials ending the distribution of migrant visas about five months ago. Without this documentation, those attempting to travel north have been stranded in southern Mexico.
According to The Observers of France 24, hundreds of migrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Somalia gathered in front of the migrant holding facility in Tapachula run by the National Institute of Migration.
"Basically, we’ve been here for weeks. All we want is a document allowing us the freedom to travel across Mexico and not to be forced to claim asylum," Alain Tita Mongu, who left his native country of Cameroon in May, said to France 24. "We don’t want to claim asylum here, especially because you have to wait several months for a response and you can’t work during that time. That’s why we started protesting."
France 24 reported that arrests were made against protesters, as well. On August 20, Mexican security forces attempted to remove protestors positioned in front of the immigration detention center, Siglo XXI, and arrested multiple men in the process. France 24 said those men were later released. On August 21, they reported a "surge in tensions," when officers allegedly harassed women and children involved with the protests.
African migrants have been driven to protest before. A protest erupted July 10 after a group in Tijuana accused Mexican officials of accepting bribes from Central Americans to gain preferential status to cross into America.