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Home / News / Martin urges leaders not to ‘dehumanise the migrant’

Martin urges leaders not to ‘dehumanise the migrant’

Amid mounting pressure over immigration at home, Tánaiste Micheál Martin toured a migrant shelter during his visit to Mexico and called for politicians around the world, including US presidential hopeful Donald Trump, to avoid “dehumanising the migrant”.

The CAFEMIN shelter in Mexico City run by Catholic nuns and supported by UN agencies is already overflowing with migrants. And the numbers are increasing every year.

Like in Ireland, migrants there have faced protests from the local community.

“We have to stand back and reflect because people in all communities have concerns,” Micheál Martin told RTÉ News.

“We have to strengthen communication and engage with communities.

“Also globally, countries have to invest to make life worthwhile to improve quality of life in the countries from which people are leaving.

“Families here are desperate to get out of the locations they are in.”

More than 600 people are now crowded into the shelter originally designed for 100. More migrants wait on the street outside. And still, they keep coming.

The shelter in Mexico City is overflowing with migrants

Children kick a football around a small square of concrete. People line up outside the kitchen for meals.

Most of the people are from neighbouring countries, such as Ecuador, Venezuela, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

But increasingly, migrants from other parts of the world like China, Afghanistan and Africa are turning up.

“This year more there were more than 1,500 Afghan asylum applications in Mexico City for instance,” Alejandra Carrillo of UNHCR Mexico told RTÉ News.

“There are more than 20 nationalities in this shelter,” she added.

Many seek asylum in Mexico. But others are determined to get to the United States, despite the growing political pressure by republican politicians to crack down on migrant crossings.

“We have been through so much already,” said 18-year-old Frangely Morales from Venezuela.

She walked across the notorious Darien Jungle where migrants risk violence, hunger and even death.

“I walked for days. I was starving,” she said.

“I can’t lose sight of my objective to get to the United States.”

The shelter provides basics such as food and clothing

The Tánaiste said: “The journeys these families are making are quite extraordinarily dangerous and risky and that from a humanity point of view is deeply concerning.”

The international community has to tackle this at the root cause, he said, by trying to stabilise regions to prevent the level of migration that is going on.

“We have a real crisis globally on this, borne out of conflict and war, climate and bad governance in many places across the world,” Mr Martin said.

Migration promises to be a hot button issue in this year’s US Presidential election.

Asked about presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric, Mr Martin said he would say to all politicians, including President Trump, that we must “avoid de-humanising the migrant”.

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