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Mexican military not allowed to detain migrants at US border, Mexican president says

A mother and her son cross the Rio Grande between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to claim asylum in the United States on March 19, 2019. (Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
June 27, 2019

As Mexico faces increasing pressure to contain the flow of migrants headed toward the United States, the President there has said his country is not detaining migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said at a news conference on Tuesday, “No such order has been issued, and we are going to review that case, so that it doesn’t happen again, because that’s not our job,” the AFP reported.

The case Lopez Obrador referred to is one where where the AFP published photos of “heavily armed” Mexican National Guard troops who were “forcibly detaining two women and a girl at the Rio Grande river, across from El Paso, Texas,” the AFP reported.

Despite his statement, there have been reports that Mexican Guardsmen have been ordered to stop and detain migrants heading toward the United States.

While Lopez Obrador pushed back on such reports, Mexico’s own Defense Minister, Luis Cresencio, responded “yes” when asked by the AFP if Mexican troops were preventing migrant border crossings.

And one anonymous National Guardsman told the AFP that they have been told to detain the migrants heading toward the U.S.

“They tell us we’re not detaining enough, that migration levels are the same,” he said.

“When they saw the photo (of the migrant detention), they told us we can’t touch the migrants. But at the same time, they order us to detain them and produce results,” the Guardsman pointed out.

A second anonymous Guardsman told the AFP, “But I can’t do that. They’ll punish me if I do that. I have to (detain them) to do my job, to finish my deployment here and see my family again soon.”

Tensions with Mexico over the influx of migrants heading toward or coming into the United States have heightened.

This week, Mexico sent 15,000 troops to the U.S. border in efforts to control the flow of migrants.

“We have a total deployment, between the National Guard and army units, of 14,000, almost 15,000 men in the north of the country,” Sandoval had said said at a joint press conference with Lopez Obrador, the Agence France Press (AFP) reported on Monday.

“Given that (undocumented) migration is not a crime but rather an administrative violation, we simply detain them and turn them over to the authorities,” Sandoval added.

Lopez Obrador previously deployed 6,000 troops earlier this month to Mexico’s southern border.

Mexico’s military deployments were a condition agreed upon by the nation’s leaders in exchange for avoiding tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration.

President Donald Trump has threatened tariffs after multiple calls for Mexico to block the flow of migrants from Central America, which have been overwhelming the U.S.-Mexico border.

The two nations agreed upon a deal on June 7, which granted Mexico a period of 45 days to demonstrably reduce the flow of migrants.