National/International: Contrasting Mexican and US Government Approaches to Central American Migration

Migration.pngAGENCIAS/LIBERAL Olga Sanchez Cordero

Mexico is preparing to stop the growing flow of Central American migrants and for this it will establish a kind of containment belt of federal forces in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the narrowest part of the south of the country, and therefore the easiest to control.

This was announced on Wednesday by the Secretary of the Interior, Olga Sanchez Cordero, a day after meeting in Miami with her American counterpart Kirstjen Nielsen. Sanchez Cordero stressed that the situation is especially complicated, because in Honduras the so-called “Mother Caravan” is forming, which could have more than 20,000 people.

“We are going to deploy the migratory, Federal Police and Civil Protection bodies and, harmoniously and with collaboration among all the federal government bodies, in such a way that we have the containment in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec,” she said. “That’s going to be the big change.”

Although she did not specify how many troops will be used for this plan or offer more details, Sanchez Cordero stressed that it will not mean the militarization of the border with Guatemala nor its hardening because it is not intended to affect the economic activity of that area, where people constantly flow on both sides of the border.

The flow of Central American migrants to the United States has multiplied since last year with the formation of caravans from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador (the well-known Northern Triangle) that have put Mexican and US authorities in check by saturating the shelters and the systems to request asylum or refuge, especially at the northern border of Mexico.

The detentions at the US-Mexico border increased to 66,450 in February, 149% more than in the same period last year, given the increase in the arrival of Central American families in search of asylum, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP in its English acronym). That agency estimates there were about 100,000 arrests in March. More than 55,000 of these immigrants would have arrived as a family, including 40,000 children.

The president of the United States Donald Trump increased his rhetoric against countries that are sources of migrants to the US, and last Saturday announced cutting off economic aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, countries that he accuses of sending migrant caravans deliberately. Given this, he announced that he would close the border or large sections of it, if the Mexican government does not slow the flow of migration.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Interior, Olga Sanchez Cordero, caused a diplomatic dispute with Honduras, which rejected the US and Mexican accusations in relation to the “Mother caravan”.

In his morning press conference, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was reiterative in his plan to promote cooperation for development, he recalled that the Central American countries are the main producers of migratory flows, as he assured that only between 10% and 15% of Mexican citizens are the crossing to the United States, of the total migratory intake of the US: “I say, nothing else to know where we stand.”

The president of Mexico was hopeful that the expulsion of Mexicans would stop, insisting on not wanting to fall into a dynamic of confrontations, particularly with the president of the United States, who has not shown prudence with his foreign policy.

Since his arrival in power in December, the Lopez Obrador government opted for the development of the countries of origin and for facilitating work visas for Central Americans, but shortly after opted to stop handing over humanitarian visas, which were granted more than 15,000 and with which the majority of caravan members crossed the country.

Now he is opting for more controlled visitor permits that, in addition, only allow the migrant to live and work in southern Mexico.

According to Sanchez Cordero, the United States will not contribute money to the new containment plan on the Isthmus but will have the technology and intelligence to detect who is behind the caravans and who is involved with organized crime or haa a criminal record.

“We are going to establish order for those who enter our country,” she said.

While Sanchez Cordero was making such statements in Mexico, a caravan of approximately 2,500 migrants crossed the southern part of the country and the US National Security Secretariat was in Tegucigalpa, where she held a six-hour meeting with internal security officials from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

In a meeting with the press after that meeting, Nielsen was satisfied with the agreements reached before what she described as “an unprecedented migration crisis.”

The US official did not give details about the agreements, but she sent a clear message: “We are united, we are committed, we are operating jointly and this is our message to the criminals: they will be captured and brought to justice.”

For more information in Spanish:

Ante amenazas de Trump por migrantes, “prefiero ser prudente”, reitera López Obrador (Proceso, 1 de abril de 2019)

Centroamericanos serán “contenidos” en el Istmo (Milenio, 28 de marzo de 2019)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Nacional/Internacional: Secretaria de Gobernación se reúne con funcionarios del gobierno de Donald Trump para abordar el tema Migración (5 de marzo de 2019)

International/National: Registration of Humanitarian Visas for Migrants Closes (February 12, 2019)

National: Judge Recognizes Migrant Caravan Children and Adolescents as Refugees (March 6, 2019)

International/Mexico: Xenophobic Violence Erupts Against Migrants in Tecun Uman (February 1st, 2019)

National/International: Sanchez Cordero Warns Migrant Caravan Will Only Have “Orderly Access” to Mexican Territory (January 16, 2019)

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