Migrants staying put in Mexico
Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
SALTILLO, Mexico (CNS) — Edelmiro Cardona hardly had any time to flee his native Honduras with his brother when gang members came calling. Cardona, who left behind a wife and 4-year-old daughter, explained how his brother had built a house and rented it, only to have gangsters, who were related to the tenant, move in and refuse to relinquish it.
“We had to flee because they came by our house shooting,” said Cardona, who worked installing satellite TV service, but sold his motorcycle and tools to pay for his escape.
The brothers made it as far north as Saltillo, some 190 miles from the Texas border. They decided to go no farther but to apply for asylum in Mexico.
They are among a growing number of Central Americans deciding to stay in Mexico rather than try to reach the United States, the traditional destination for migrants streaming out of countries south of Mexico.
“We’re asking for refuge because if we return to our country of origin, we run the risk of being killed,” Cardona said at a migrant shelter run by the Diocese of Saltillo, which is helping with his asylum claim. “It was a direct threat.”
Migration from Central America is nothing new as many have left in search of better economic opportunities, making Mexico – significantly wealthier than the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala – an afterthought as they passed through on their way to the U.S.
Nowadays, an increasing number of migrants are thinking about Mexico as a more appealing option because of U.S. restrictions on refugee resettlement. For the migrants, it’s more about finding somewhere safe.
The operators of Catholic-run migrant shelters, which operate throughout the country, along with the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, say today’s trend stems from the dangers of the Northern Triangle countries.