Central American immigrants opting for Mexico rather than the US

12/18/2016 The Nation 

fence at borderTENOSIQUE, Mexico // Carlos Mejia and his family live in a room furnished only with a bare mattress in this southern Mexican town near the Guatemalan border. Their neighbours are Hondurans like them.

Mr Mejia has a job that pays $8 (Dh29) for a 12-hour day, enough for electricity, water and some food. The United Nations refugee agency pays his rent and that of a growing number of immigrant families in the town of 32,000 people.

He is one of more than 8,000 immigrants expected to seek asylum this year from Mexico, the majority fleeing gang violence in Honduras and El Salvador and to a lesser extent Guatemala. The exodus is turning southern Mexican towns into informal refugee camps.

The decision to settle in Mexico and not continue to the United States is tied to increased recognition of the risks of crossing Mexico and more recently the hostile rhetoric of US president-elect Donald Trump, the immigrants and their advocates say.

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