High-Profile Migrant Rights Activists Arrested in Mexico
Irineo Mujica, director of the migrant advocacy group Pueblos Sin Frontera, and fellow migrant rights activist Cristobal Sanchez were arrested Wednesday in Mexico by federal police. Both had active warrants and face federal immigration charges in the state of Chiapas, where both have been taken, according to a federal release and spokesperson.
They are each accused of having offered to help smuggle Hondurans into and through Mexico in exchange for money. The arrest warrants were issued after several Hondurans made the allegations to federal authorities.
“This is somebody who would never, ever request that somebody provide them financial gain in order to do the humans rights defense work that he does,” said PSF program coordinator Alex Mansing of Mujica. He described the charges against both men as “absurd and fabricated.”
Mujica allegedly illegally transported migrants, including minors, and Sanchez allegedly brought them into Mexico, according to the release.
PSF runs a number of migrant shelters in Mexico and has helped organize migrant caravans through Mexico.
You can read the release on the arrests in Spanish here.
Shelter volunteer Karla Betancourt said she’s troubled by the arrest. Mujica was one of the shelter's founders
"I don't know what repercussions this could have, for example, on the migrant shelter," she said. "I don't know if this will bring problems."
In a Wednesday afternoon tweet, Pueblo Sin Fronteras denounced the arrest of Mujica and another migrant rights activist, calling them a "clear reprisal by the Mexican Government against (migrant) defenders."
El director de nuestra organización, Irineo Mujica, y otro gran defensor de derechos migrantes, Cristóbal Sánchez, fueron arrestados hoy. Es una clara represalia por el Gob Mexicano contra defensores. ¡Se nota la presión del gobierno anti-migrante de EEUU!@CIDH #LibertadYa!— Pueblo Sin Fronteras (@PuebloSF) June 6, 2019
"The pressure from the anti-migrant U.S. government is clear," the tweet went on to say.
Mujica has figured prominently in the ongoing trial of Scott Warren, a border activist facing felony harboring charges.