They are fleeing violence and misery. They are fleeing mistakes and inaction by their governments, and they are fleeing politicians that are incapable of providing the minimum level of welfare and security to their populations.
Walking thousands of miles under the sun through rain and cold is not easy. People do this when they are desperate. In recent weeks, the country has been traversed – at times on foot and others by bus – not just by the occasional individual, but by entire families and communities originating predominantly in Honduras and El Salvador.
They are fleeing violence and misery. They are fleeing mistakes and inaction by their governments, and they are fleeing politicians that are incapable of providing the minimum level of welfare and security to their populations. They would rather leave everything behind – their property, their family and their friends – than run the risk of dying at the hands of criminal groups.
The United States government has stated that there are criminals in these queues of people and that they would not be allowed access, the government calling their migration an invasion. Such remarks conceal hatred and discrimination rather than actual arguments.
The majority of the migrants spent a week in Mexico City. They arrived tired, their feet sore, and came without any money but with the hope of improving their lives. Many stories have surfaced. There’s the Medina Gutierrez family, which left Honduras because of violence from the Mara Salvatrucha.* There’s 19-year-old Evis Antonio Munguia, who came to Mexico with the intention of being a football player and who learned to kick a ball barefoot in the poverty in which he lived. There are transgender people, who leave their countries because of discrimination.
Just over a week ago, the first group of migrants arrived in Tijuana, where they wait for the U.S. government to analyze their situations and settle their requests for political asylum.
While this is happening, there has been a protest against their presence, and the president of the United States has authorized the use of lethal force against those that try to enter. Across the country, anti-immigration sentiments have increased. According to a survey conducted by El Universal, barely a month ago in October, just 37.8 percent of people asked were against Mexico allowing migrants access and granting them refuge. Now, in November, that figure is almost 50 percent of respondents.
Yesterday, a group of migrants that tried to cross the border were knocked back by U.S. forces equipped with rubber bullets and tear gas. It is just one more sign of desperation facing those that left their communities over a month and thousands of miles ago.
They do not deserve to be treated with force. They are not delinquents; they are migrants. A humanitarian solution is what is required.
*Editor’s note: Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, is a reference to an international criminal gang that is active in parts of the continental U.S., Canada, Mexico and Central America.