Mexico says it deported 15,000 migrants in April but thousands are still headed north

by Anna Giaritelli
| April 23, 2019 02:30 PM

The Mexican government says it has deported 15,000 migrants who illegally entered Mexico from Guatemala and had been traveling as part of caravans in hopes of reaching the United States' southern border.

Mexico's National Institute of Migration office said more than 15,000 people who were found to be illegally present in Mexico have been returned to their countries of origin, but thousands more people continue to traverse the country intent on reaching the U.S.

"Mainly from Central America, but also from other countries, they have been little more than 15,000 from the first of April to date — the irregular situation, irregular income, irregular stay and immigration regulations — should not be in the country," Alejandro Encinas, Interior Ministry undersecretary for human rights, told a local outlet Monday evening.

Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 92,000 unauthorized immigrants were arrested for illegally crossing the southern border in March, making it the highest month in 11 years.

That number has grown from 50,000 last fall. President Trump has repeatedly demanded the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador do more to curtail the tens of thousands of people passing through his country each month.

Mexican Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero said late last month that the "mother of all caravans" was preparing to enter Mexico from Honduras.

El Financiero reported more than 5,000 people, including from Africa and the Caribbean, have been documented as part of the caravans in southern Mexico.

Last Friday, federal authorities overtook some caravans and raided the groups to see if they had legal documents permitting them to pass through the country. Migrants passing through Mexico must obtain a legal document from the National Institute of Migration that certifies they have permission to be in the country for a certain number of days or risk being deported.

One of the caravan groups that is still intact includes 300 Cubans. The group passed on Monday through Mapastepec, a town of 5,000 residents that is about 50 miles north of the Mexico-Guatemala border.

On Monday, federal authorities broke up more caravans moving north through Chiapas. Immigration authorities had 10 buses and a dozen trucks waiting at a checkpoint just south of Pijijiapan so that everyone could be deported. A local report said some threw rocks at the federal law enforcement officers.

Federal authorities forced them off rented buses over the weekend.

Another 3,200 migrants remain in three shelters in Mexico's Chiapas state, which sits on the international border, a Venezuelan outlet reported.