MEXICO CITY: Mexican authorities cleared out a makeshift migrant camp in the northern border city of Reynosa that had grown over the past year to house some 2,000 people, Mexico’s Migration Institute (INM) said on Tuesday (May 3). ).
Many of the migrants, who are primarily from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti, were taken to a nearby shelter, the INM said in a statement.
The Reynosa camp was formed in March 2021 in a public square across the US border from McAllen, Texas. Many of the people camping in tents or under tarps say they fled violence or persecution in their home countries.
Images released by the INM showed the migrants walking in a long line away from the camp on Monday night, carrying suitcases, backpacks and other belongings. The INM said that people left around 11 p.m. under the surveillance of the local police and the National Guard, a militarized police force.
The Reynosa camp had worried immigrant advocates because of its location in one of Mexico’s most dangerous border cities. In February, Mexican authorities also cleared out a major migrant camp in the border city of Tijuana, where activists had criticized conditions.
Such encampments grew during the coronavirus pandemic after former US President Donald Trump’s administration implemented a health order turning away asylum seekers and other immigrants at the border.
Although President Joe Biden’s administration said in March it would end the measure by May 23, a US judge temporarily blocked authorities from proceeding.
Christa Cook, founder of the US aid group Solidarity Engineering which provided drinking water and toiletries to camp residents, said only 400 people remained in the Reynosa camp as of Monday night, including about 150 children.
Many of the migrants, including families with young children, had spent months living in the camp, which had grown to cover the entire square.