As Central American families flee humanitarian crises, migrant camps swell at US-Mexico border

By Reuters Time of article published Mar 27, 2021

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Lizbeth Diaz and Mimi Dwyer

Mexico City - As an increasing number of migrants flee humanitarian crises in Central America, makeshift encampments are growing along Mexico's border with the United States, where the migrants ultimately hope to gain asylum.

More than 1 000 people, including hundreds of children, are living in a collection of tents at the base of an international bridge in Tijuana, according to Mexico's national human rights commission.

Over 200 more migrants are camping out in the plaza in Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas, the commission said.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of Central American children and families fleeing to the United States in recent months, as the region is gripped by a worsening economic and hunger crisis.

The number of families apprehended by US agents while crossing the border nearly tripled in February from a month earlier to about 19 000 people.

Norma, an asylum seeking migrant from Honduras, holds her one year old daughter Sifer in Penitas, Texas, as they line up to be transported by US Customs Border Protection officials, after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico on rafts. Picture: Adrees Latif/Reuters

US ports of entry remain closed to the vast majority of asylum seekers.

The Biden administration is rapidly expelling the majority of migrants caught crossing the border back into Mexico, although unaccompanied minors and some families have been permitted to enter the United States to pursue their asylum cases.

Earlier this month, Mexican authorities dismantled a sprawling migrant encampment in the border city of Matamoros, after US officials permitted the majority of the camp's residents to cross into Texas.

Their entrance was part of the Biden administration's efforts to reverse his predecessor's controversial program, known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which forced thousands of asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims advanced through US courts.

The majority of the residents of the new encampments in Tijuana and Reynosa are not enrolled in the MPP program.

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