Edgar came from Colombia to Mexico to visit his family but was held incommunicado and the INM wants to deport him.
NGOs denounce the opacity in Mexican airports and arbitrary detentions or entry denial or tourists. There is no data on how many people are rejected and returned or remain locked up in migration facilities for days.
Edgar Patiño Hormaza, 67, landed in Mexico City at noon on Monday from Bogotá. A professor at the Central Unit of Valle del Cauca, a university located in Tulúa, 90 kilometers north of Cali, he came to Mexico to meet his wife, Aida Araña. As soon as he arrived, he left her a message telling him that everything was going well and that he would soon embark for La Paz, Baja California Sur, where one of her children is doing his doctorate. He never communicated again.
For hours, the family was left without hearing from Patiño, who had arrived in Mexico and seemed to have vanished. Over time, thanks to consular work, they learned that he had been rejected by the National Migration Institute (INM) and that they were looking with Volaris, the airline that brought him to Mexico, a return flight. Meanwhile, he remains locked up in a facility known as “La Burbuja“, which is managed by Migration and where people who are not allowed to enter the country wait. Various NGOs have denounced the poor conditions in which people are forced to wait.
“They didn’t have any problem for me when I went through immigration. They asked me where I was coming from, I told him I was coming on vacation, with my son, and they told me to go ahead, ”explains Aída Araña, the wife. She arrived in October to spend more time with her son. Meanwhile, her husband was finishing his job at the university. The day that was supposed to be a reunion turned into a harrowing day, without knowing where he was.
“We called the airline, which told us that he did not take the flight to La Paz,” she explains. She herself received a call from her husband’s number but, when answering, she only heard noises. The isolation is one of the usual practices of the INM with the foreigners who are locked up in this space: many have reported that the first thing they take away is their cell phone so that they cannot give an account to the outside of what their situation is.
The case of Patiño Hormaza is no exception. There are many foreigners who arrive in Mexico and find that the authorities do not allow them the passage despite the fact that the visa is not required for people of Colombian origin. It occurs with people who come to ask for asylum, such as the Afghan couple who later the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allowed to re-enter with an asylum request and with tourists such as Patiño Hormaza, a university professor who came to enjoy Christmas with his family. Animal Político asked the INM about the protocol applied at airports and how many people had been turned away in the last year, but received no response. The only answer was that these actions were in accordance with the law.
After almost a day of uncertainty, Patiño Hormaza’s family learned that the man had been rejected and that they were looking for a flight to return him to Colombia. They ensured that he met all the requirements: he has a stable job, a place to stay in Mexico, and had even booked several tours to do in Mexico City at the beginning of the year. “This is an arbitrary decision, it is unheard of,” his wife complained. No one from the INM contacted them to say the man’s condition or what they were going to do with him. Not even to inform him if they had provided him with food.
“The law does not apply. In recent times we have seen more cases, people who even remain locked up for 15 days, ”explains Ana Saiz, from the NGO Sin Fronteras, which follows these types of cases. “We have noticed more arbitrariness at the airport, where they hardly allow access to NGOs or the CNDH,” he said. Animal politico came to document cases such as that of Faarooq Muhammad, a 34-year-old Pakistani who ended up being locked up for more than a month
In the last year, Mexico reintroduced visas for citizens from Ecuador, Brazil, and Venezuela with the aim of curbing migration from these countries. This has also meant closing the doors of the asylum application for people arriving by plane and forcing them to take more dangerous routes, such as the one that crosses all of South America to reach Mexico. It was not the case of Edgar Patiño Hormaza. He arrived to spend Christmas with his family and, for the moment, is incommunicado at the INM offices at the Mexico City airport.