More Than 17,000 Cubans Have Applied for Refuge in Mexico, Most of Them to Avoid Deportation

The Mexican Committee for Refuge Assistance (COMAR) has responded to 78,367 asylum applications in two of its offices.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Mexico, 15 December 2022 — The brothers José Luis and Raúl Borroto entered Mexico 40 days ago through Chiapas. “We paid the coyote $4,000 to take us to the border and he abandoned us.” These Cubans are part of the group of 368 migrants that the National Guard arrested on November 18 in the municipality of Tecpatán, in Chiapas, a state bordering Guatemala.

They spent 20 days at the Siglo XXI immigration station located in Tapachula and were released after paying a lawyer $3,700. “They threatened us with deportation if we didn’t pay; they were going to put us on a plane and return us to Cuba,” Raúl told 14ymedio. “There are many Venezuelans without documents or money. They are returning them to Guatemala.”

José Luis and Raúl left the immigration headquarters and immediately began their procedures at the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) to apply for asylum. They must show up on January 9 to find out if they were accepted. The lawyer recommended that they process an amparo [request for sanctuary] that would cost $1,500 each so that they can move freely through the country and thus be able to reach Ciudad Acuña (Coahuila) to cross to the United States.

According to COMAR , as of November of this year, 17,487 Cubans applied for asylum. Alejandro Austria de la Vega, in charge of the delegation in Chiapas, expects 2022 to end with a little more than 80,000 applications for migrants, with Cubans being the second most important national group.

“Tapachula is the central point of asylum requests for people who transit through national territory with the intention of reaching the United States in search of a better quality of life for their families, who stayed in their countries of origin,” he told 14ymedio.

The influx of migrants on the southern border of Mexico grew by 40% in the last two weeks compared to the previous year, so the authorities doubled their attention, according to officials of the National Institute of Migration (INM) reported on Wednesday.

According to Migration records, 6,000 multiple immigration forms (FMM) have been granted in the last 15 days; that is, about 400 daily to natives from Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti and Africa. They have placed tents, tables and chairs in the temporary care module to serve about 1,200 migrants a day.

Migration and National Guard agents have avoided setting up camps for migrants to stay to sleep or stand in line from the night before. “We are not going to allow them to set up tents or stay here to sleep,” an official warned the migrants who were going to carry out procedures.

Gráfico de la Comar sobre las solicitudes de asilo recibidas este año. (Comar)
Graph showing requests for asylum this year. (COMAR)

Among those who are waiting for regularization is the Venezuelan Jürgen Casanova, who travels with 15 people. “We are asking for help and sleeping on the streets to avoid spending money on rent for houses or hotels, since all this is hard,” he told EFE.

On a white poster, the South American wrote: “Hello, Mexico. We are a Venezuelan family that needs your help. May God bless you and multiply your support.” Casanova commented that the situation is difficult. “We were victims, we were robbed on the Guatemalan border with Honduras.”

A similar story is told by Ecuadorian Luis Taboada, who travels with his wife and two minors. On a poster, he asks for help to feed his family. “People who have not gone through this journey, who do not try, it is not an easy thing, especially if they go with children. At the beginning I thought that everything would be easy,” he warned.

Even so, he said that he will not give up his trip and will continue despite the shortages and lack of food, since the only option is to meet the final goal of reaching the United States.

The region is experiencing a record migratory flow to the United States, whose Customs and Border Protection Office stopped an unprecedented number of more than 2.76 million undocumented people in fiscal year 2022, a figure that includes substantial increases in Cubans and Venezuelans.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.