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Migrants stitch their lips shut to cross Mexican border into the US

A migrant begins a hunger strike with her mouth sewed shut during a protest to demand free transit through the country outside the office of the National Migration Institute (INM) in Tapachula, Mexico February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Torres

On Tuesday, a dozen undocumented migrants on Mexico’s southern border stitched their mouths shut in an attempt to persuade the country’s immigration authority to allow them to cross into the United States.

The news: The migrants, largely from Central and South America, assisted each other bind their lips with needles and plastic threads, allowing a little hole to drink liquids and wiping away blood from the stitches with alcohol.

What they’re saying: “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.”

A migrant begins a hunger strike with their mouths sewed shut during a protest to demand free transit through the country outside the office of the National Migration Institute (INM) in Tapachula, Mexico February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Torres SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB
  • “It is worrying that these measures have been carried out with the consent and support of those who call themselves their representatives, with the intention of pressuring authorities on an attention already provided,” Mexico’s migration agency (INM) stated in a public statement.
  • When they staged the dramatic protest in Tapachula, a border city with Guatemala where hundreds of migrants have been waiting for months for papers to be able to freely traverse the nation, some were carrying their children.
  • “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 she has been waiting for a response from Mexico’s migration agency for more than a month.
  • The agency stated that it continues to respond to cases, emphasising that vulnerable populations such as children, teenagers, pregnant women, crime victims, individuals with impairments, and the elderly are given priority.
Migrants begin a hunger strike with their mouths sewed shut during a protest to demand free transit through the country outside the office of the National Migration Institute (INM) in Tapachula, Mexico, February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Torres SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB

What’s going on: Every day, more than a hundred applicants arrive at the school’s offices in the southern city, according to the institution.

  • The number of migrants arriving in Mexico to flee violence and poverty has increased in recent years. Mexico had an 87 per cent surge in asylum petitions in 2021, primarily from Haitians and Hondurans.
  • The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has suggested that Mexico investigate new aid programmes in the wake of an increase in international visitors, many of whom are Venezuelans, for whom a visa is now required.
A migrant begins a hunger strike with his mouth sewed shut during a protest to demand free transit through the country outside the office of the National Migration Institute (INM) in Tapachula, Mexico, February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Torres
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