By MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press
MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexico began returning Haitian migrants to their countries of origin on Wednesday, sending 70 people to Port-au-Prince.
The first flight took off from Villahermosa Airport in Tabasco State on the Gulf Coast of Mexico, with 41 men, 16 women and 13 minors on board. The United States is also returning migrants on flights to the Haitian capital.
Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration did not immediately respond to questions about whether further flights were scheduled. But he called those in Wednesday’s flight âthe first cluster,â suggesting it was the start of a process to deal with the thousands of Haitian migrants who have flocked to the US border this month.
Thousands more are stranded in the southern town of Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border, while their claims for asylum or refugee status are processed by Mexican authorities.
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“The authorities of the departments of the interior and foreign relations have agreed with the representatives of the Republic of Haiti to begin the assisted voluntary return of migrants to Mexico in their country of origin,” the institute said in a statement. .
The institute said the returns were voluntary and the Haitians lived in Tabasco and central Mexico. This suggests that they were not among those on the northern border or those in Tapachula.
Mexican President AndrÃ©s Manuel LÃ³pez Obrador said on Friday: âWe don’t want Mexico to be a migrant camp; we want the problem to be fully resolved.
Mexican authorities on Tuesday opened a massive reception center outside a football stadium in Tapachula in an effort to reduce the backlog in the Mexican asylum system and the resulting frustrations that have fueled thousands of applicants to head to the United States.
The site outside the Tapachula Olympic Stadium can accommodate up to 2,000 people per day. Previously, huge crowds had taken to the streets around the commission’s downtown offices in Tapachula, scrambling to position themselves.
In early September, groups of hundreds of migrants left Tapachula on foot, often tired of waiting for the overloaded asylum system to process their cases. Each time, the Mexican authorities separated the groups.
More recently, some 15,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, appeared on the border between Mexico and the United States. Some of them also had asylum cases open in Mexico but were tired of waiting. U.S. officials spent a week cleaning up this camp in Del Rio, Texas, deporting some directly to Haiti and releasing others to the United States in the hope that they would appear before immigration officials in a later date.
Some of these migrants detained by Mexican authorities in Ciudad AcuÃ±a were returned south to Tapachula.
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