Mexican Authorities Relocate Hundreds of Migrants From Border City

Hundreds of Central American migrants encamped in Mexico’s border city of Piedras Negras, across from Eagle Pass, Texas, are being relocated to other cities after a group of migrants rioted earlier this week and attempted to leave an abandoned factory where they were being held.

A senior Mexican government official said Friday that the relocation seeks to disband the group of some 1,400 Central American asylum seekers, most of them from Honduras, and prevent potential mass attempts to rush for the border fence to cross to the U.S., as happened in Tijuana late last year.

The migrants’ arrival in Piedras Negras, in the northern state of Coahuila, threatened to spark a rift between Mexico and the U.S., as President Trump declared a national emergency to build a wall across the border.

On Friday, Mr. Trump thanked Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“I just want to thank the president because he’s been helping us with these monstrous caravans that have been coming up. We had one that was up to over 15,000 people. It’s largely broken up. Others have gotten through,” Mr. Trump said.

Trump Declares National Emergency Over Border Wall

Trump Declares National Emergency Over Border Wall

President Trump declared a national emergency Friday to get more funding for border barriers. Downplaying the significance of past presidents declaring emergencies, Trump said “They sign it. Nobody cares.” Photo: Getty

President Trump declared a national emergency Friday to get more funding for border barriers. Downplaying the significance of past presidents declaring emergencies, Trump said “They sign it. Nobody cares.” Photo: Getty

President Trump declared a national emergency Friday to get more funding for border barriers. Downplaying the significance of past presidents declaring emergencies, Trump said “They sign it. Nobody cares.” Photo: Getty

President Trump declared a national emergency Friday to get more funding for border barriers. Downplaying the significance of past presidents declaring emergencies, Trump said “They sign it. Nobody cares.” Photo: Getty

President Trump declared a national emergency Friday to get more funding for border barriers. Downplaying the significance of past presidents declaring emergencies, Trump said “They sign it. Nobody cares.” Photo: Getty

A spokesman for Mr. López Obrador didn’t immediately respond to several calls seeking comment.

Mexico granted some 13,000 humanitarian visas for Central American migrants who arrived at its southern border in January in an attempt to persuade them to stay and work in Mexico. They largely split in smaller groups, with many continuing their journey north to try to seek asylum in the U.S. and others staying in Mexico. Another group of some 2,500 migrants has encamped in an improvised shelter in Mexico City.

Late Thursday, some 140 migrants stranded in Piedras Negras were sent by bus some 270 miles south to Saltillo, Coahuila’s state capital, immigration and state officials said. Another 150 people were relocated some 265 miles to the east, in the border town of Reynosa, in neighboring Tamaulipas state. The northern cities of Monterrey and Hermosillo will also receive migrants in the coming days, the officials said.

Most of the migrants are being sent to shelters run by charities. Authorities are offering them jobs so they can live by their own means, said a Coahuila state official.

Coahuila state authorities helped migrants to reach Piedras Negras earlier this month by providing them with buses in what some saw as an erratic response from both local and federal authorities.

“The Mexican government is struggling to address the phenomenon of large numbers of migrants traveling in caravans in the country,” said Maureen Meyer, the head for Mexico at The Washington Office on Latin America, an advocacy group. To prevent further incidents, the government should develop a strategy to address shelter and safety concerns in border cities and “dramatically improve intergovernmental communication and coordination,” she said.

At Eagle Pass, on the U.S. side of the border, U.S. troops were ordered to put up concertina wire and provide support for Customs and Border Protection. There are some 4,350 active-duty U.S. troops on the border, including some 250 in Eagle Pass, according to the Pentagon.

The migrants in Piedras Negras have already spent 10 days at the abandoned factory, surrounded by hundreds of Mexican federal and state police officers. Immigration officials said most of these migrants entered Mexico illegally in late January.

A Central American migrant at a shelter in Piedras Negras.
A Central American migrant at a shelter in Piedras Negras. PHOTO: JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Some 1,700 migrants arrived in the city in early February but around 1,400 remain in the city. So far only 340 have received humanitarian visas to stay and work in Mexico, an immigration official said.

Tension in the shelter erupted earlier this week when a group of migrants rebelled and tried to overwhelm Mexican forces. TV images showed the migrants trying to knock down a fence while police contained the group. Four people were wounded.

Many migrants in Piedras Negras are disappointed after a long and treacherous journey through more than 1,750 miles from San Pedro Sula, the Honduran city from where the caravan started out on Jan. 14.

“We want to get out. We didn’t make this long journey for this,” said one migrant reached by telephone who declined to be named.

Some of those who got their Mexican visas are trying to enter illegally into the U.S. Last week, a family with two babies was rescued by U.S. Border Patrol agents while they were trying to cross the Rio Grande, the agency said.

Meanwhile, shelters that are receiving the migrants are asking Mexican authorities for help. “We need food and tents, we can’t do this alone,” said Héctor Silva, who heads a shelter in Reynosa run by evangelical Christians.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mexican-authorities-relocate-hundreds-of-migrants-from-border-city-11550262962

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