Levi Vonk’s project would conduct ethnographic fieldwork with Central American migrants in Mexico City who had previously traveled in migrant caravans. His work is especially crucial at a time when caravan members have been particularly vilified both in Mexico and the US. Levi would work to assess how President López Obrador’s promise—to legalize all caravan members and grant them a work permit—is actually being carried out on the ground in Mexico City. He seeks to understand: 1) How the process of legalization—whether through asylum or humanitarian visas—actually functions for specific caravan members, now that the caravans are longer being covered by the international media; 2) What kinds of working and living conditions caravan members have encountered in Mexico City; and 3) How might this offer of legalization to caravan members be linked to, or differ from, Mexico’s widespread deportations of Central Americans under their anti-immigrant policy known as the Southern Border Plan. This work is the first that I know of that seeks to follow up with migrants from previous caravans to document what obstacles and hardships they still face in Mexico. This is important work that holds the López Obrador administration accountable, as well as the Mexican immigration system at large.
September 3, 2019