Train Hopping

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    Migrants wait along rail lines to board a freight train heading north. (AP/Eduardo Verdugo)
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    Migrants ride atop a freight train headed to the U.S.-Mexico border. (AP/ Moises Castillo)
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At a railyard in Huehuetoca, Mexico, hundreds of people wait by the tracks. They’ve come from many countries, but they have one purpose. They’re fleeing home and heading north.

But this time, the trains aren’t coming.

One of Mexico’s largest railway companies suspended operations in the northern part of the country. The reason? Safety. In recent days, about a half dozen migrants died or were injured while trying to hitch a ride. Some even attempted to jump aboard moving trains.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of migrants in recent days,” say officials from the railway company, Ferromex. They’ve halted operations until authorities can solve the problem.

Mexico is seeing a surge in migrants headed for the U.S. border. In 2021, Mexico’s refugee agency received a record-breaking 129,000 asylum applications. This year, officials think that number could reach 150,000.

Many of these travelers have good reason to seek refuge. They come from troubled countries such as Cuba, Honduras, and Haiti. Since 2021, gangs have swarmed Haiti, miring the country in violence. But with so many fleeing north, it can take weeks to get an appointment to apply for asylum.

Sometimes, that desperation leads to recklessness. On Monday, a crowd of fatigued and anxious sojourners swarmed a Mexican asylum office, trampling each other to get in. In that case, no injuries were reported.

In Mexico, migrants have a history of using trains to reach the U.S. border. They call the train system “the Beast.” Some ride the Beast for hundreds of miles. A decade ago, Mexican officials raided trains to discourage train hopping. But since then, the practice has stopped.

Ferromex temporarily halted 60 trains. Together, those trains carry enough cargo to fill 1,800 tractor trailers. The stoppage will likely impact international trade.

In the Bible, God tells His people to accept and protect sojourners. (Leviticus 19:33-34) When so many sojourners arrive at once, that command gets complicated. But nothing is too difficult for God. It is appropriate for believers to pray for the safety of those seeking refuge and for God to bring peace in their homelands. We can ask God to give officials wisdom to ease the migrant crisis.

What is impossible with man is possible with God. — Luke 18:27