Migrants, mostly from Haiti, stormed an asylum office in southern Mexico on Monday, demanding papers.
Crowds of migrants hit metal barricades and rushed to the office in the town of Tapachula, pushing past National Guard officers and police stationed at the office. Some of the migrants were trampled by their colleagues in the rush.
Authorities later persuaded many to leave and no injuries were reported.
The tension comes as asylum applications in Mexico have soared, reaching 100,000 so far this year.
Crowds of frustrated migrants, including many from Cuba and Honduras, say they have had to wait weeks in some cases for an appointment at the office in Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border.
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At the office, which is run by the Mexican Refugee Assistance Commission, immigrants can submit applications for asylum in Mexico. Most, however, intend to use the cards to travel more safely and easily across the US border.
“It’s very complicated, there are too many people here, Haitians are desperate, they’re hitting roadblocks and it just makes the process slower,” said Cuban immigrant Miguel Argoten.
Argoten said he waited a week in Tapachula to begin the asylum application process. The office receives about 2,000 appointment requests a day recently.
Mexico is on track to receive more asylum applications this year than ever before, as the flow of migrants threatens to overwhelm the governments of many Latin American countries along the migration route.
Andrés Ramírez Silva, director of Mexico’s refugee agency, said last week that the number of asylum applications his agency receives this year could reach 150,000, well above the record 129,000 set in 2021.
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“Essentially we have a pace that is much higher than what we had in our record year which was 2021,” Ramírez Silva said. If that pace continues, he predicted they could reach 150,000 by the end of the year. By August they already had 100,000 – 25% more than the same period in 2021 – more than half on Mexico’s shared border with Guatemala.
Some immigrants were unruly during the wait last week and broke into agency offices, prompting the deployment of National Guard officers, who had little luck maintaining order.
Ramirez Silva said Cubans, Haitians and Hondurans make up about 80 percent of the asylum applications at the Tapachula office. He said his agency has asked the federal government for more resources to expand its capabilities.