PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico — The Governor of Coahuila, the Mexican state where this border city is located, has one thing to say after overseeing the arrival of a caravan of nearly 2,000 migrants: “No Mas Caravanas,” or no more caravans. That was the headline in the local newspaper.
“In the case of the state government, we will not allow more migrants to travel to Coahuila,” Gov. Miguel Riquelme told reporters.
The governor explained it wasn’t up to him to stop this caravan when it crossed Mexico’s southern border nearly three weeks ago because that’s the federal government’s job. But this one is here now and he’s doing everything he can to deal with it in the most humanitarian way.
And that way involves the enormous security operation that has contained the migrants at the shelter.
A multi-agency force that includes federal, state and local law enforcement has partnered with Coahuila’s Mexican Army and military police to keep all the migrants housed while they process temporary asylum claims.
Out of nearly 2,000, only 139 migrants have obtained their official cards that will allow them to leave the shelter and travel freely throughout Mexico.
Authorities are also investigating whether the migrants have a criminal past. If they do, they will be deported immediately. So far, no one has been deported as a result.
This aggressive containment is intended for the security of surrounding Coahuila communities – and preventing the threat of them crossing the border, officials say.
The Security Secretary for Coahuila, Jose Luis Pliego Corona, wants Americans to know that they are doing everything possible to identify and remove any criminal threat in this group.
And caravans like this are taking a toll on border cities like Piedras Negras.
Mayor Claudio Bres said he can only keep this going for three months, at most, and is worried about more caravans behind this one.
Ultimately, he says it could have a tremendous economic impact on a city that handles $22 billion worth of cross-border trade – and he’s hoping for a permanent solution.
“It would make it better,” Bres said, “if the Democrats, Republicans, the U.S. government, the Mexican government and the Honduran government would work together to put on the table something that will resolve this for good.”