AMERICA/MEXICO - The Scalabrinians: "The issue of migration is central even in this period of pandemic"

Thursday, 30 April 2020 solidarity   migrants   human rights   missionaries   orders   civil society  


Tijuana (Agenzia Fides) - "There is great concern about the condition that thousands of migrants currently live along the border line between Mexico and the United States. With the closure of the borders, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have been put in solitary confinement in hotels, which are now close to collapse. Others are destined for detention centers. Without adequate assistance, the risk of contagion and the probability of spreading the virus is very high. Furthermore, cases of violence and discrimination are added to the difficult situation in which these people find themselves". This is what Esmeralda Siu Marquez, a lay Scalabrinian missionary who works in the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, says in an interview with Agenzia Fides.
"Since mid-March - she continues - the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have asked the Mexican government to stop the repatriation of migrants to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the countries of Central America". According to information from the National Migration Institute (INM), in fact, more than twenty thousand migrants have been blocked in Mexico since the arrival of the pandemic in the Americas, of whom more than half are located in the north of the country and nine thousand, instead are concentrated in the south.
Esmeralda Siu Marquez is executive coordinator of the "Coalition for the Defense of the Migrant", a network of civil organizations based in the Mexican state of Baja California and which includes six centers where assistance, advice and defense of the human rights of migrants is provided : "In this border area - notes the missionary - we have several flows of migrants who regularly converge from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. To a lesser extent, Venezuelans, Colombians, Cubans and Haitians also arrive". While neighboring countries close their borders to their compatriots, in Mexico there is collaborative work between civil organizations and immigration bodies: "in January 2020 - reports Marquez - the program provided through the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP ), served to give asylum to Central American migrants while they waited for their questions to be resolved in the United States. Despite the ongoing health emergency - she continues - we are working to prevent migrants from exposing themselves to more risks than they already do on their journey to the United States. Most have adhered to a plan defined before 23 March to adopt health measures and ensure social distancing in the reception accommodation facilities", explains the executive coordinator. Protocols have also been adopted to treat any cases of coronavirus in places of refuge, "where there is – she specifies - accompaniment of the health sector to immediately channel those who present symptoms to the corresponding medical care centers". As a lay Scalabrinian missionary - Marquez concludes - I hope that the issue of migration will be considered as a phenomenon of vital importance in this period of spread of the coronavirus, which serves to strengthen our faith, and reflect on values such as acceptance and solidarity as new forms of coexistence". (ES) (Agenzia Fides, 30/4/2020)