Migrants, mostly from Haiti, burst into an asylum office in southern Mexico on Monday, demanding papers.
Crowds of migrants tore down metal barricades and rushed into the Tapachula city office, pushing past National Guard officers and police stationed in the office. Some migrants were trampled by their colleagues in the rush.
Authorities then convinced many people to leave, and no injuries were reported.
The tension comes as asylum requests in Mexico have soared, reaching more than 100,000 this year.
Crowds of frustrated migrants, many from Cuba and Honduras, say they have had to wait weeks in some cases to get an appointment at the office in Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala.
At the office, run by the Mexican Refugee Assistance Commission, migrants can file applications for asylum in Mexico. Most, however, intend to use these papers to travel more easily and safely to the U.S. border.
“It’s very complicated. There are too many people here. The Haitians are desperate, they are knocking down the barricades, and this only slows down the process,” said Cuban migrant Miguel Argoten.
Argoten said he had been waiting for a week in Tapachula to start the asylum process. The office recently received about 2,000 appointment requests per day.
Mexico is on track to receive more asylum requests this year than ever before, as the flow of migrants threatens to overwhelm the governments of several Latin American countries along the migration route.
Andrés Ramírez Silva, director of Mexico’s refugee agency, said last week that the number of asylum applications received by his agency this year could reach 150,000, well above the record of 129,000 set in 2021.
“In fact, we have a much higher pace than our record year of 2021,” Ramírez Silva said. If this pace continues, he predicts, they could reach 150,000 by the end of the year. Until August, they already had 100,000, 25% more than the same period in 2021, more than half of them on Mexico’s common border with Guatemala.
Some migrants became unruly while waiting last week and broke into agency offices, leading to the deployment of National Guard officers, who had little luck maintaining order .
Ramírez Silva said Cubans, Haitians and Hondurans accounted for about 80 percent of asylum applications at the Tapachula office. He said his agency has asked the federal government for more resources to increase its capacity.