In the wake of more than 70,000 minors crossing the U.S. border, a Mexican government initiative launched in July has attacked existing immigrant routes, in particular along the southern border of Mexico, and ruthlessly choked off the flow of people.
As a result, tens of thousands of migrants have found themselves caught along that southern border. It’s impossible to travel through the border states of Tabasco, Chiapas, and Vera Cruz and not see them everywhere: walking single file down jungle roads, selling foreign foods like papusas from crude street carts, begging outside churches — and increasingly filing local jail cells for petty crimes.
It’s a looming humanitarian crisis, activists warn, that could rock Mexico’s southeast region and send the extremely poor border states already plagued by cartel violence and endemic corruption into chaos.
“This is just a ticking time bomb,” said Fray Tomas, a Franciscan friar who along with Fray Aurelio runs the shelter in Tenosique. “We are filling up the southeast with tons of people, crime, corrupt authorities. This will explode.”