Mexico Rounds Up 71 Guatemalan Squatters On Border

By Salon Staff

Published January 10, 2012 3:27AM (EST)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican immigration officials and police on Monday rounded up 71 Guatemalans who had been living in a tent camp near the two countries' border since August.

The National Immigration Institute said the men, women and children were living in unhealthy and unsafe conditions. It said they were taken to immigration offices for better care and a review of their immigration status.

The Guatemalans had camped out on land belonging to a Mexican communal farm since August, when they were expelled from squatters camps they had set up in a Guatemalan forest reserve.

The institute said the Mexican farmers had asked for their land back. It said unarmed officers, psychologists and female immigration workers helped the Guatemalans move out of the improvised tarp-covered shelters.

The Miguel Agustin Pro human rights group condemned the raid and demanded the squatters not be sent back to Guatemala.

Mexico gave refuge to thousands of Guatemalans during that country's 1960-1996 civil war, and officials had previously provided food and other supplies to the squatters removed Monday. The Guatemalans have been in talks with their government about returning, but reportedly don't want to do so until they have guaranteed housing in their home country.

Salon Staff

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