Migrants sew their mouths shut in quest for Mexico passage to US border

The migrants helped each other seal their lips using needles and plastic threads. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAPACHULA, Mexico (REUTERS) - A dozen undocumented migrants on Mexico's southern border sewed their mouths shut on Tuesday (Feb 15) in a bid to convince the country's immigration authority to grant them passage towards the US border.

The migrants, mostly Central and South Americans, helped each other seal their lips using needles and plastic threads, leaving a small space to consume liquids and using alcohol to wipe away drops of blood from the stitches, Reuters images show.

"The migrants are sewing their lips together as a sign of protest," said Irineo Mujica, an activist at the demonstration. "We hope that the National Migration Institute can see that they are bleeding, that they are human beings."

Some were carrying their children when they staged the dramatic protest in Tapachula, a border city with Guatemala, which for months has been filled with thousands of migrants waiting for papers to be able to freely cross the country.

"I'm doing it for my daughter," said Yorgelis Rivera, a Venezuelan. "She has not eaten anything in the last few hours and I see no solution... from the authorities."

"We are like prisoners here," Rivera said, adding that she has been waiting for a response from Mexico's migration agency (INM) for more than a month.

The INM did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the protest but said that they receive more than a hundred applicants at their offices in the southern city every day.

In recent years, the number of migrants arriving in Mexico fleeing violence and poverty has jumped. In 2021, Mexico recorded an 87 per cent increase in the number of asylum applications, mainly from Haitians and Hondurans.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) recently said that Mexico should consider new aid programmes amid a surge in the arrival of foreigners, many of them Venezuelans, for whom Mexico now requires a visa.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.