Mexico has stepped up immigration raids, pulling hundreds of people off trains in recent weeks, to stop a surge in Central American migrants heading to the United States since Joe Biden took office, according to advocates and data from law enforcement authorities. immigration.
The crackdown on military and police backed immigration officers marks an escalation in Mexico’s efforts to control migration.
While Mexico has welcomed Biden’s commitment to addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, it is concerned that the new administration’s efforts to make it easier for people to seek asylum in the United States are fueling migration and placing a burden about Mexico.
Some 1,200 migrants from Central America, including more than 300 children, were detained in raids between January 25 and February 16 along train routes in six southern and central Mexican states, as well as in the capital, according to the Mexican immigration agency.
More than 800 migrants were also detained while traveling north in buses or tractor trailers in recent weeks, according to figures from immigration authorities counted by Reuters.
Mexico’s National Migration Institute said the decision to launch the train raids was not at the behest of the United States and that it had not made such arrests in recent years because fewer migrants had previously used trains to travel north.
It did not provide comparative data on the total number of migrants caught in raids in previous years.
But Tonatiuh Guillén, head of Mexico’s immigration agency until 2019, told Reuters that the frequency and scale of the current detentions were unprecedented. Guillén said raids had previously been occasional, but were now common practice.
The White House has said that the administration has not discussed with Mexico how it deploys security forces in its own territory.
Biden took office in January and vowed to undo many of former President Donald Trump’s restrictive immigration policies. It has started allowing unaccompanied minors arriving at the border to enter the country to submit asylum applications. They had previously been quickly deported.
Biden also reversed a Trump-era program that had forced mostly Central American asylum seekers to wait in Mexico, rather than the United States, while their claims were processed.
Migrants run the risk of being detained and deported if they do not have the proper documentation to be in Mexico, even if they plan to seek asylum at the US border.
“Mexico is playing the role of stopping immigration to the United States,” said Sergio Martín, head of operations in Mexico for the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders.
Human rights groups have raised concerns about increased law enforcement activities, saying that Mexican and Central American security forces often violate migrants’ right to seek asylum.
Despite the raids in Mexico, US border agents carried out 100,441 arrests or expulsions of migrants at the border with Mexico in February, the highest monthly total since the 2019 border crisis. The increase was driven by migrants from Central America.
Central American migrants are fleeing criminal violence, economic collapse and a growing hunger crisis, compounded by devastating storms.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism