More than 3,200 migrants who had been a part of caravans moving from Central America to the United States’ southern border have abandoned the group to either stay in Mexico or return to their home countries, according to the Mexican government.
The country’s Interior Ministry reported 3,230 people had asked the government permission to stay in Mexico as refugees as of Tuesday. After the refugee process completed, a temporary shelter in Tapachula was shut down.
Fewer than 2,700 people from that group have been given interim visitor documents, which allow them to work while in Mexico and waiting for COMAR, the country’s Commission for Refugee Aid, to decide whether they can permanently stay.
“Through a multidisciplinary team made up of INM authorities, COMAR, Secretariat of the Navy, Mexican Red Cross and UNHCR, the Central Americans who requested the protection of the Mexican government to stay and live in our country were supported with food, medical attention, psychological, permanent supplies for daily cleaning, and medications,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement, according to a translation from Spanish to English.
Federal police and immigration officers are helping transport those who chose to return home.
Those who remain in Mexico will have to wait between 45 and 90 days to learn if their asylum requests have been granted.
Approximately 4,000 people are still traveling to the country’s border with the U.S., according to an estimate from Mexican officials last week.
The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not respond to a request for their latest estimates of the number of people traveling in the caravans.