Migrants at the southern border of Mexico sewed their mouths shut Tuesday with needles and plastic thread in protest of long wait times for processing their asylum claims. Mexico has been overwhelmed by new numbers of migrants since the U.S. crackdown on migration at the northern border.
According to the Washington Post, the influx of migrants in the southern city of Tapachula, at the Mexican border shared with Guatemala, are mostly from Central and South America and Haiti.
“The migrants are sewing their lips together as a sign of protest,” said activist Irineo Mujica at the demonstration, according to Reuters. “We hope that the National Migration Institute can see that they are bleeding, that they are human beings.”
Mexico’s immigration services have been overwhelmed with the number of applications for asylum statues, which has almost doubled since 2019, according to the Post. During the all time high in asylum applications last year, 39 percent of the applications came from Haiti alone.
From the Post:
In a news release, Mexico’s National Institute of Migration, the agency overseeing immigration matters, characterized the migrant mouth-sewing protest as “senseless.”
“It is very concerning that these measures were taken with the consent and support of those who call themselves their representatives, with the intention of pressuring migration authorities on a service that is already being provided,” the statement read.
Mexican immigration authorities said they are dealing with asylum requests and giving priority to “vulnerable groups like children, adolescents, pregnant women, crime victims, people with disabilities and senior citizens.”
In recent years, Mexico has faced mounting pressure from the United States to stem the massive flow of migrants fleeing violence, poverty and climate change, and prevent them from reaching the U.S-Mexico border.
In return, the Mexican government has repeatedly urged the Biden administration to increase funding for Mexico and Central America — where most of the migrants come from — to create more jobs and deter migration.
“I’m doing it for my daughter,” said Venezuelan migrant Yorgelis Rivera, according to Reuters. “She has not eaten anything in the last few hours and I see no solution ... from the authorities.” Mexico now requires Venezuelans to have visas.
According to Reuters, a dozen migrants participated in the protest. Many have waited months to be granted permission to enter the country, sleeping on benches and in parks.