Since June 14th, the agreement between Mexico and the United States to contain the flow of migrants in recent months has involved a militarization of both borders, according to human rights organizations.
On the southern border, the arrival of six thousand elements of the National Guard (GN in its Spanish acronym) was announced. In addition, “elements of the 101st Infantry Battalion of the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA in its Spanish acronym) stationed in the Chiapas sierra put on a black armband with the initials GN (National Guard) and began patrolling in the Comalapa Border municipalities and others of the sierra de Chiapas”, this occurring after “the number of migrants using this road multiplied, after the route that starts from the Suchiate River and runs along the coast of Chiapas became more difficult, with the integration of elements of the Military Police and the Marina in the checkpoints”, Chiapas Paralelo reported a few days after the signing of the agreement.
The civil organizations that work on behalf of the migrants expressed their concern about the “double discourse” of the government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), which changed from a humanitarian policy to a militarist one. They accused the federal government of having let “the administration of Donald Trump, extend its border domain to southern Mexico.” They also indicated that the increase in police and military surveillance will not stop migration but will lead them to resort to more dangerous and risky routes for their security and integrity. They are also concerned about the tendency to stigmatize all civil society organizations, increasing the risks for migrant advocates and closing possible channels of dialogue. They warned that there is little clarity in the functions of the GN: “since March 2011, when migration was decriminalized as a crime, this was left as an administrative fault and the INM (National Institute of Migration) as the only authority empowered to detain migrants. However, now everyone is doing it doing, Marines, Army, Federal Police, state police bodies and even municipal police”, Chiapas Paralelo points out.
Another problem linked to the strategy of containment has to do with the saturation of migratory centers that are exceeded in their capacity by up to 400 percent with “overcrowded conditions, without health or adequate food or sufficient access to health services”. The fifth visitor of the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH in its Spanish acronym), Edgar Corzo Sosa, also pointed out the lack of personnel and infrastructure to process requests for refuge or regulation of migratory stay.
Civil organizations have also reported that the INM has asked transport companies to collaborate to prevent the entry of undocumented persons into their vehicles, which some of them agreed to do when the Institute threatened to sue them for crimes comparable to trafficking in persons, with penalties of between one thousand and ten thousand days penalty or up to 16 years in prison. The CSOs will question that the latter action hinders “free transit, not only for this population, but also for Mexican people” since there are “millions of people living in Mexico -who do not have these documents- and they travel on the roads of the country in different transportation systems: young people, agricultural day laborers -of which, many are indigenous, immigrants with immigration documents, thousands of Mexican returnees or deportees who do not have identity documents, and those who do not have their credentials from the INE because they were stolen, they have not updated it, etc.”
In the Northern Border, “we have a total deployment between the National Guard and army units of almost 15,000 men”, the Secretary of National Defense, Luis Cresentcio Sandoval, acknowledged during AMLO’s morning conference on June 25th. He affirmed that “considering that migration is not a crime, it is an administrative problem, so we only stop them and put them at the disposition of the authorities” of the National Institute of Migration. In this same framework, AMLO confirmed that the National Guard troops do detentions of migrants in aid of the INM authorities. He declared that, “there may be these excesses, but the instruction they all have is that the human rights of migrants be respected and that will continue that way.”
For more information in Spanish:
Organizaciones, activistas y defensores denuncian doble discurso del gobierno de AMLO en política migratoria (Chiapas Paralelo, 17 de junio de 2019)
Por “contingencia migratoria”, personas sin identificación oficial no podrán abordar en ADO y ETN (Proceso, 18 de junio de 2019)
Acciones para contener migración en el país ponen en peligro libertad de tránsito de población mexicana (OSC, 19 de junio de 2019)
Organizaciones denuncian que medidas gubernamentales contra migrantes son anticonstitucionales (Desinformémonos, 20 de junio de 2019)
15 mil elementos de la Guardia Nacional impedirán el cruce de migrantes hacia EU (Animal Político, 24 de junio de 2019)
Puede Guardia Nacional detener a migrantes: López Obrador (Excelsior, 25 de junio de 2019)
For more information SIPAZ:
Chiapas/National/International: Migrants’ Human Rights Defenders, Irineo Mujica and Cristobal Sanchez, Released (June 17, 2019)
National/International: US-Mexico Migration Deal Halts Imposition of Tariffs (June 17, 2019)
National/International: Two Defenders of Migrant Human Rights Arrested (June 11, 2019)
Chiapas/National/International: Observation Mission Concludes “Southern Border Is Silent Torture” (June 9, 2019)