"Mexico is facing two crises right now . There’s the situation with Trump and the United States, but then there’s an internal crisis. Gas prices, corruption, the degradation of institutions."
"[While Mexicans are upset over the Trump messages the price of gas] gets Mexicans into the streets [to march in protest]."
Lorenzo Meyer, Mexican historian
"I’d like to stand up and have my voice heard [by the U.S. and Mexico] as a migrant worker, [but there’s more outrage currently around issues like gas prices]."
"The thing is, if people in my community can’t go to work legally in the U.S. and send back remittances, or if there are mass deportations from the U.S., people will return here and see there is no work. There is no way to make money. The price of gas won’t matter if no one has any money."
Adareli Ponce, migrant worker, Hidalgo state
|Henry Romero/Reuters Demonstrators march against a \fuel price hike in Mexico City, January 31, 2017|
But if the United States and particularly under its new president, is concerned about the presence of millions of illegal migrants, and is focusing on Mexico as a source of much of the illegal presence as underground workers whose presence is a boon to the economy, despite their undocumented status, complicated by the fact that many of those illegals have settled in the U.S. and lived there for decades, often longer; raise families whose children know no other country, for whom Mexico is foreign, there is another, ignored reality, that Mexico itself is struggling to cope with an influx of migrants.
"It's worrying us. How Mexico can handle that [Haitian, Central American and Cuban migrants] is going to be a whole new area of concern. I don't think the absorptive capacity is there."
Christopher Gascon, chief, Mexico office for the International Organization for Migration
|Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times|
Shelters crowded with Haitian migrants and Cubans have been popping up in Tijuana, Mexico in churches, community centres, and wherever else homeless people can be sheltered in temporary accommodations on their arrival in Mexico, planning to go on to the United States. In Mexico, they await the opportunity to persuade U.S. visa officers to grant them the visas they need to enter America. The city is a crossroads at the border, crammed with so many migrants private citizens have taken to opening their doors, to feed, clothe and house them.
Now that President Trump has issued directives that the border between America and Mexico is to be tightened and that immigration is being restricted while deportations will be stepped up, a new crisis is emerging in towns and cities along the border throughout Mexico. People have been arriving steadily from Central America in flight from violence and poverty. Close to 409,000 people were apprehended as they attempted to cross the southwestern border illegally last year into the United States.
Earlier, the Obama administration had altered American policy, contributing to the desperate backlog of Haitian migrants, along with Cubans, thousands of whom had been stranded in Mexico and Central America when the previous (Obama) administration decided to end the policy favouring Cuban entry into the United States. While Cubans had been welcomed if they made the journey across land to the U.S. those who made the journey by sea were regularly repatriated. Now, however, Cubans must obtain a visa before entry, just like anyone from anywhere else in the world wishing entry to the U.S.
That change in a longstanding policy has resulted in thousands of Cubans left stranded. The situation for Mexico, a country struggling on a number of fronts, now hit with the threat of a massive tariff of goods exported to the United States, to pay for a restraining wall Mexico abhors and the United States' new president favours, has seen between 400,000 and 500,000 undocumented migrants transit every year through the country, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Haitians experienced few problems crossing into the United States, for quite a while, since U.S. authorities permitted undocumented Haitians to enter under the umbrella of a humanitarian provision recognizing the 2010 earthquake disaster and resulting upheaval. They would wait for weeks for appointments scheduled with U.S border officials. Until the Obama administration in September announced its intention of resuming deportation of Haitians to dissuade more Haitians from undertaking the migration.
But the migration route into Mexico has widened; not only from Haiti, but from India, Bangladesh and parts of Africa — all of them intending to enter the U.S. Baja California saw 15,000 migrants coming from outside Latin America pass through in 2016, five times greater than the number in 2015.
Many of the migrants chose the long, arduous and dangerous route to Mexico as an alternative to the equally difficult passage to Europe, crowded now with refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa.
|The sounds of French and Haitian creole mix with Spanish and English in Tijuana's shelters which a year ago were filled with migrants from Central America and Mexicans recently deported from the U.S. Photo by Genaro Molino|