Migrants sew their mouths shut en route to US border to raise alarm on immigration policies

In a shocking bloody statement migrants on Mexico’s southern border are going on hunger strike

Some undocumented migrants have been sewing their mouths shut and going on hunger strike to get attention from the Mexican government over its immigration policy.

The migrants, on the southern border of Mexico outside the office of the National Migration Institute (INM) in Tapachula, are hoping to be allowed passage to the US border.

In a shocking and bloody statement, the Central and South American migrants have helped each other to use needles and plastic threads to pierce their skin and bind their mouths closed.

A small opening in the mouth has been left for liquids, but stitching frequently bleeds and the protesters have to wipe their mouths with alcohol to reduce the risk of infection.

National Migration Institute in the city of Tapachula

"We hope that the National Migration Institute can see that they are bleeding, that they are human beings,” said activist and human rights defender Irineo Mujica, from Front Line Defenders.

“I'm doing it for my daughter,” said Venezuelan migrant Yorgelis Rivera who has been waiting for a response from the Mexican authorities for more than a month. “She has not eaten anything in the last few hours and I see no solution ... from the authorities.”

Mexico saw asylum applications almost double between 2019 and 2021. Migrants who would typically enter Mexico with the aim of crossing into the US are now applying for asylum to enter Mexico, due to slower processing times in the US as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Haitians were the group with the biggest increase in applications for asylum to Mexico, which increased almost 10 times what it was in 2019. The majority of applications are being filed at the Guatemalan border.

The US has deported around 14,000 Haitians since 2021. At the end of last year, UNICEF attempted to raise $97m to help 950,000 people affected by the earthquake of 2021 and climate-related natural disasters, which have killed more than 2,000 people and injured more than 12,000.

Only a third of the UNICEF funding has been raised. Many Haitians are now giving up on US help and attempting to build a life in Mexico. There are approximately 3,000 Haitians stuck in the border town of Tapachula between Guatemala and Mexico.

President Biden has restarted Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, meaning migrants are forced to wait in Mexico for court hearings in the US.

The Biden administration did allow more than 100,000 Haitians already living in the US, before 29 July, to apply for Temporary Protected Status in light of the pandemic. Mr Trump fought to end Temporary Protected Status, but his attempts were delayed by court challenges.

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