Thousands of Central Americans are still crossing Mexico’s southern border

Migrants disembark on the Mexican side of the border after crossing the Usumacinta River from Guatemala, in Frontera Corozal, Chiapas state, Mexico, Wednesday, March 24, 2021.Eduardo Verdugo/AP

FRONTERA, COROZAL.- On the day this week that Mexico imposed new measures to shut down migrant crossings at its southern border, some 1,200 made the trip at a single remote jungle outpost without showing a document to anyone.

A man who helped board the migrants for the five-minute boat ride Sunday from Guatemala across the Usumacinta River knew the count because each one received a ticket.

Mexico wants to again appear cooperative, as in 2019 when, faced with tariffs from then-President Donald Trump, it deployed its newly created National Guard to slow the flow of migrants from Central America.

But the reality is it’s business as usual, with entire communities making a living off the passing migrants.

Their reasons for heading north are familiar: violence, an inability to support their families, the devastation wrought by two major hurricanes in November and egged on by rampant misinformation.

Among those crossing Sunday was Yuri Gabriela Ponce, a 30-year-old mother from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, along with her husband and three children, ages 2, 5 and 9.

Now, having reached Mexico, they were uncertain how to proceed. As she rested Wednesday in the shade at a crossroads just north of the border, she worried about what would come next.

“They told us that farther ahead there is a checkpoint and we don’t know what to do,” Ponce said. “I hope that with the children they help us.”

The family left Honduras after Ponce’s husband lost his construction job and was unable to find another. They left two older children with relatives.

Initially they planned to cross into Mexico much farther south, but heard a rumor that criminals were stealing children and killing parents there. So they reversed course and came to this remote jungle outpost instead.

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