Hundreds Of Migrants Take a Border Bridge In Mexico To Demand Asylum In The US | International

The border between Mexico and the United States is a pressure cooker. Hundreds of immigrants on Thursday blocked the border bridge that separates Matamoros (Tamaulipas) from Brownsville (Texas) to demand that the response to their asylum requests be accelerated. Protesters have been waiting for several months in Mexican territory as part of the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), a White House policy that requires applicants to wait south of the border while US courts resolve whether they can receive protection in American soil The makeshift camp has paralyzed truck traffic at that point on the border strip and has prevented the transit of thousands of people crossing the checkpoint to work, study and perform other daily actions in both countries.

Immigrants have prevented access in the checkpoint, also known as Gateway, since the early hours of the morning and the US Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has deployed about 50 riot control devices to close traffic in both directions. Notimex, the state news agency of Mexico, estimates that there are about 500 immigrants at the International Border Bridge, while the CBP figures the protest between 250 and 300 protesters.


Motorists and passersby have had to opt for other crossing alternatives, such as the Brownsville & Matamoros bridge, the Los Tomates checkpoint or the Los Indios pass. The border between the two countries is the busiest in the world, with a binational trade that exceeds 600,000 million dollars a year. The metropolitan area between Matamoros and Brownsville is the fourth most populated with about 1.3 million people living on both sides of the wall.

At the center of the protests are the consequences of the MPP, a policy that began to be applied earlier this year and is informally known as Stay in Mexico. In the days prior to the closure of the checkpoint, organizations and journalists accused that only asylum applications of Mexicans were being processed. The University of Syracuse, which has statistically monitored MPP legal processes, says there are more than 6,300 people waiting in Matamoros while receiving a hearing before US courts.

The bottleneck at the doors of the US causes long waiting times, ranging from four to six months. At the busiest points, the dosage of applications can be extended up to eight months. One of the main questions is that asylum seekers waiting in Mexico face precariousness and violent contexts. Given the northward movement of the migrant caravan in October last year, Matamoros estimated that the city's reception infrastructure was barely enough for a thousand migrants.

The city, which has a little more than half a million inhabitants, is located in Tamaulipas, one of the red centers of violence and organized crime in Mexico. Last March, about twenty migrants traveling by bus from San Fernando, in the center of the State, to Reynosa, on the border, were kidnapped. The Government linked the disappearance to human trafficking. In September, the United Nations ordered that the allegations of eight extrajudicial executions, allegedly covered by the State Police, be investigated. That same month the Mayor's Office of Matamoros was evicted by a bomb threat. The scourge of violence in the entity in northeastern Mexico has been so severe in the last decade that it led to Morena, the ruling party, requesting the disappearance of powers in Tamaulipas, but the request was dismissed.

While Washington has launched in the last four months a series of unilateral policies and agreements with Mexico and the three countries of North Central America to contain migration, the focus of concern for civil and international organizations is to guarantee rights human beings of people in transit, as well as in the countries' own capacity to manage the migration crisis. The exodus from the Central American isthmus is estimated this year at more than 800,000 people, according to the Mexican government.

Several groups report abuse in Mexico
African migrants clash with military police in Tapachula. EFE

The blockade of the border bridge in Matamoros is one of the last episodes of tension between immigrant groups and Mexican authorities. The organization Sumando Venezuela, which helps immigrants from that country in the tourist state of Quintana Roo, has denounced this week that around 500 Venezuelans have been held for several hours, even days, at the Cancun airport. The organizations denounce that they have been prevented from entering Mexico without justification and without being allowed to contact their relatives, isolated in a room known as "the bubble".

In Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala, several hundreds of immigrants from Congo, Angola and Cameroon who have been stranded in Mexican territory have met in recent days with agents of the National Guard. Immigrants have protested that the authorities have not resolved their requests to regularize their stay in Mexico and have threatened to organize a caravan of no response.