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By KELIN DILLON

A total of five families from the Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have reportedly been held at the Cancun airport’s immigration for more than a month, with officials demanding $3,000 per person for their release.

After officials suspected their passports and travel documentation were falsified, the immigration officers then reportedly claimed the families were lying about their intentions to travel into Mexico when giving them a follow-up interview, despite the migrants having shown return tickets, travel itineraries and hotel booking confirmations.

National Institute of Migration (INM) employees allegedly requested $3,000 per person from all 25 members of the group, which includes two babies under the age of two and 11 children, as well as a pregnant woman, to continue into Cancun. When the tourists wouldn’t oblige due to language translation difficulties, they were arrested on the spot.

According to their lawyer, José Luis González Navarro, the group has been held in a small, windowless room in the airport that the INM uses as a cell ever since. The airport’s general practitioner has since said that several of the children are experiencing vitamin deficiencies and vision issues from their more than 30 days in the crowded room.

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