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5-Days As An Undocumented Migrant

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27 Year Old Dulce Susana Jacobo Cruz

A Mexican student of Indigenous Education at the National Pedagogical University in Mexico City posed as an undocumented Honduran Migrant.  She was able to gain access to the El Annex Immigration Station. The station is run by the National Migration Institute (INM) in the City of Villahermosa in Tabasco, Mexico.

Jacobo Cruz Reports

Mexican authorities are deceiving Migrants with offers of jobs, shelter, and food if they voluntarily go into “Protective Custody” at the Villahermosa Detention Center.

Once in custody, prisoners discover the promises are just an elaborate ruse to get them into the facility where they are held without access to legal assistance, proper food or sanitary conditions.

Overcrowded Detention Centers

These were designed to handle a few hundred people. Currently, they are now holding thousands at the behest of Mexican and U.S. Authorities.

This is part of the June 7, 2019 agreement to prevent tariffs from being imposed on Mexican Exports to the U.S.

No Access To Lawyers, Phones, Family Members

 

Migrants are being refused access to lawyers, aid/relief organizations, or even phones to reach out to family members for help as part of this agreement, and to keep a tight lid on information regarding the conditions inside the centers.

This story began on January 15, 2020, when a caravan of Migrants departed from San Pedro Sula, Honduras – headed for the U.S. Border.

Jacobo Cruz joined the caravan in order to discover why it was happening, how the Migrants were managing the journey, and how they were being treated by the Mexican Authorities.

The Guatemala / Mexico Border

 

Several days later the Caravan met resistance at the Guatemala / Mexico Border.  First at El Ceibo in Tabasco, and then at Cuidado in Chiapas. On January 23, 2020, Migrants crossed the river and were arrested immediately.

Others, turned themselves in after being promised asylum by authorities. This is where Jacobo Cruz and other students were caught in the roundup of migrants.

 

Photo Courtesy of Tapachula Migrant Solidarity

The following day, another wave of Migrants were permitted to cross the river without incident and proceed through Tapachula on the road north.

Later, they were met by heavily armored National Guard and Federal Police in riot gear, rounded up and taken to detention centers. Women and small children included.

Photo Courtesy of Tapachula Migrant Solidarity

Thousands Deported

 

According to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, thousands have already been deported after he had promised there would be more than 4000 jobs for Migrants if they were cooperative.

The strategy is to lull Migrants into a false sense of hope, then arrest them for detention and/or ultimately, deportation.

 

Photo Courtesy of Pueblos Sin Fronteras

Rebelled Against The Authorities

 

Once inside the detention centers, people soon realize they have been deceived and will not earn their freedom as promised. There is no viable escape.

However, on Monday, January 27, 2020, that is exactly what happened. Migrants who had been promised assistance, realizing the assistance was not going to come, rebelled against the Authorities and began to riot.

Forced Open Locked Doors

 

They forced their way through locked doors, grabbed as many women and children as they could manage, forced open a security gate in a patio area and ran.

Several hundred people managed to escape without knowing where they were or where to go. The National Guard, the Federal Police, and the INM pursued the escapees with cattle prods.

They were used to incapacitate individuals as they fled on foot; others were beaten with batons and subdued before being arrested again.

Hiding In A Taco Stand

It was during the escape that Jacobo Cruz and another student found themselves hiding out in a taco stand to avoid the Authorities.

 

Photo Courtesy of Pueblos Sin Fronteras

They managed to get to the office for the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) and filed an official complaint. They then turned themselves over to authorities.

Missing Persons Report

 

By this time, Jacobo Cruz’s mother had filed a missing person’s report when her daughter failed to respond to her communications. Jacobo Cruz was permitted to call her mother and was then released. Jacobo Cruz says that several other students who were involved are still missing.

The Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance still has not been granted access to the detention center and has been unable to process any requests for asylum.

Request To Shelter Migrants

 

Government officials from Honduras, El Salvador, Tabasco-Mexico, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have requested to shelter migrants while they figure out how to proceed.

But thousands have already been forcibly deported back to their countries of origin.

Since this incident, Authorities have refused access by international aid workers, medical personnel, food workers and media.

Without access to these facilities, we cannot know what the conditions are inside, the status of the Migrants, nor the abuses taking place.

Pressure on Mexico and U.S. Authorities

 

It is time to pressure Authorities in Mexico and the United States to allow access to these facilities, allow legal professionals to assist Migrants before the unspeakable happens.

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