REYNOSA, Tamaulipas – Tamaulipas officials are scrambling to respond to a caravan of migrants from Central America that might arrive in the state within the next two weeks.
An official in Gov. Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca’s administration says the state needs help from the federal government because it does not have the resources to cope with the arrival of 7,000 people seeking food, shelter and medical assistance.
“Right now we are really focusing on the caravan, all the people that are coming from Central America. We are trying to figure out how we are going to sort it out. They are talking about 7,000 people coming to the border,” said Francisco Galvan, international trade director for the State of Tamaulipas.
“We still do not know if they are going to end the journey at Laredo, Reynosa or Matamoros. Either way, it is going to be a big problem if we do not take precautions on what we are going to do.”
Asked if the caravan will definitely come through Tamaulipas, Galvan said:
“Oh yes. The most probable point is Reynosa or Matamoros, rather than Laredo because they do not want to walk through Monterrey. My guess is they will come through Veracruz and onto Tamaulipas, or through San Luis Potosi, on the southeast corner. The way I see it, Matamoros (is most likely), being the shortest point between the border and Mexico City. Those people have been walking for days.
“From my perspective, as I have been talking to people at the Consulate, they are going to be putting pressure where there is a U.S. Consulate’s presence. In that case it will either by Matamoros or Laredo. Reynosa does not have a U.S. Consulate.”
Asked how many people might be on the caravan when it reaches the U.S.-Mexico border, Galvan said:
“We do not know. We are just speculating. We are supposed to be having a meeting this week to put the pieces together, to see what is happening. We have a lot of declarations. Some of them say many of them have returned, some say it is increasing. Some say there is another 3,000 or 4,000 coming from El Salvador, a new caravan. It is pure speculation. One way or another we have to be ready.”
Asked how long before the caravan arrives, Galvan said: “Another 10 or 12 days.”
Galvan said it is critical Tamaulipas gets federal help.
“We have to have federal help. There is no way the State of Tamaulipas has the resources. We do not have the facilities to accommodate that amount of people. For health, food, sleeping. We cannot do it. Especially, as I see it, the United States is not going to let them in. What are we going to do with those people sitting at the border, for two or three weeks. We have to have a Plan B. I do not see the United States giving them political asylum.”
Galvan said that while he has been making calls to the U.S. Consulate, other state leaders have been holding meetings in Ciudad Victoria, the Tamaulipas capital.
“I have been having phone calls with the Consulate and the Instituto Tamaulipeco para los Migrantes, which operates from Laredo to Matamoros. This is the first week we are going to get together at the American Consulate in Matamoros,” Galvan said.
“We want to solve this in the most humane way we can. There is no provision for us to be holding that amount of people for a very long time. We have to have a Plan B in case the United States does not give the migrants the immigration status they are hoping for. There are a lot of questions. We do not know yet what will happen. One way or another we have to have a contingency plan in place.”
Asked if this is the biggest caravan to make its way north from Central America, Galvan said:
“I do not think Tamaulipas has ever seen a caravan this big before. I have talked to friends in Honduras and El Salvador. There are a lot of dark things at the back of this caravan. It is kind of scary, the people behind the caravan are using mothers and children as a flag, but there are people behind them that present a lot of problems, not only for the Mexican side but the American side too.”
Galvan said public safety is the biggest concern.
“The people that are coming, I know from friends in Honduras and El Salvador… in fact, the Mexican government has already declared that some of the people have guns and bombs, stuff like that they are carrying with them. Those are not the people that Mexico or any country wants to give asylum to.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows the migrant caravan making its way through Mexico. (Photo credit: Moises Castillo/AP)