Mexican government offers migrants visas in exchange for visas

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Mexican government offers migrants visas in exchange for visas

A taxi driver yells to Haitian migrants blocking a street to protest after Mexican authorities canceled the process to apply for humanitarian visas to be able to cross Mexican territory to reach the U.S. border, in Tapachula, Mexico November 23, 2021. TAPACHULA, Mexico, Nov 23, Reuters - Thousands of migrants in southern Mexico have accepted a government offer to leave a U.S.-bound caravan in exchange for Mexican visas, officials said on Tuesday night.

The caravan is one of two large groups of migrants, many from Central America and the Caribbean, who left the southern city of Tapachula in recent weeks to embark on the long journey north to the U.S. border with families including young children.

According to a joint statement from the Interior Ministry and National Migration Institute, the caravan migrants who left Tapachula last week accepted a government proposal to start the process that will allow them to regularize their legal status.

The group had progressed as far as the town of Mapastepec in the southern state of Chiapas, under the direction of caravan organizer Luis Garcia Villagran from the advocacy group Pueblo Sin Fronteras.

Garcia told Reuters that most of the migrants in the caravan had accepted the offer and officials would eventually transport them out of Chiapas, distributing them across 10 states. The government statement, however, lists nine states.

In exchange for the deal, organizers agreed not to assemble more caravans in future, a Mexican migration official said later on condition of anonymity.

The statement made no mention of it, and Caravan organizer Garcia denied that such a deal had been made.

Migrants have repeatedly expressed skepticism about receiving documentation regularizing them in Mexico, and organizers say another caravan is about to depart from Tapachula, a major migrant massing point close to the border with Guatemala.

Garcia said that the decision to allow migrants to enter the country was positive, after Tapachula turned into a prison for migrants who were left stranded while waiting for paperwork that would let them freely transit the country.

The Mexican migration official said earlier group of migrants from Haiti and Honduras were taken to Guanajuato state about 1,000 km 620 miles away on Tuesday.