Mexico's dispersal of latest caravan simply frees migrants to cross the U.S. border less visibly

Article author: 
Todd Bensman
Article publisher: 
Center for Immigration Studies
Article date: 
Monday, February 18, 2019
Article category: 
National Issues
Article Body: 

A CIS visit to the improvised caravan migrant shelter at Piedras Negras, Mexico

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico, February 18, 2019 — Inside the sprawling ceramics factory where the Mexican government has detained the latest migrant caravan, a process is underway virtually guaranteeing that almost everyone here will soon be granted exactly what they came for: an opportunity to breach the U.S. southern border, exploit the American catch-and-release loophole by claiming asylum, and add themselves to the millions already living in the country illegally.

This caravan of some 2,000 mostly Hondurans, with a smattering of Salvadorans and Guatemalans, began arriving on February 8, but was unable to rush the American border en masse because the Mexican government detained them all first in the Piedras Negras ceramics factory, surrounding it with troops and state and local police forces. Preventing a mass swim across the Rio Grande, that would have been covered by international media, may have improved political optics for both the Mexicans and the Americans, and the state of Coahuila announced that it will close the improvised shelter sometime this week after several riots and disturbances by those demanding release to the U.S. border.

However, the process that will enable Mexico to accomplish such a quick shelter closure portends an unseen, very different outcome than the one intended by U.S. administration officials and current immigration policy. The process also portends precisely the outcome sought by everyone in this caravan and in any future ones. Under the auspices of a special visa program, Mexico is essentially dispersing the migrants around northern Mexico where they will be free to try their luck crossing other parts of the American southern border and to then access the much-prized American catch-and-release loophole they have always sought, though in smaller, less visible-groups.

In one section of the Piedras Negras camp last Thursday, CIS observed hundreds of migrants waiting in line to apply for special Mexican work visas of a year duration. At the same time, in another area of the camp, hundreds more migrants with those visas freshly in hand gathered as Mexican immigration officials called out the names of the 100-applicant groups that will be put on at least one waiting bus to some other Mexican city, such as Monterrey or Hermosillo, ostensibly to live and work for the year. And in a third area is the line to board the big, sleek bus parked inside the factory with a hand-written sign on the door that reads: "Salida Monterrey".

It is through this process that the caravan population is being inexorably reduced each day and dispersed in small groups to other parts of northern Mexico.


 [To see this entire, detailed, article online and view the numerous colored photographs of people and places mentioned, click here:]