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Mexico deploying military police to help stop migrant surge, report says

Migrants from Honduras march in a caravan. (Morena Perez Joachin/DPA/Zuma Press/TNS)
March 19, 2021

Mexico is preparing to send militarized police forces to help stop the surge of U.S.-bound illegal immigrants at its border with Guatemala, according to a Reuters exclusive report on Wednesday.

Sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that Mexico’s National Guard militarized police will be central to the effort to stop the influx of migrants who are primarily traveling from Central America’s Northern Triangle of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

“The operations will be more frequent, more continuous and we will be taking part,” a National Guard member said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The individuals close to the matter did not provide any details on the new migration strategy, but authorities have already encountered migrants without the necessary paperwork near the city of Tapachula, the National Guard member noted.

Authorities requesting paperwork from people traveling across sections of the Suchiate river on the border of Guatemala have started to occur more frequently, according to Ivan Porras, an academic studying Tapachula immigration.

Last week, Mexico reportedly expressed concern that U.S. President Joe Biden’s border policies are leading to a massive surge in illegal immigration and allowing the country’s most dangerous drug cartels to grow.

Reuters reported that Mexican officials are “worried the new U.S. administration’s asylum policies are stoking illegal immigration and creating business for organized crime.” Customs and Border Protection’s new data released Wednesday showed that over 100,000 migrants were apprehended in February, almost triple the apprehensions in February 2020. 

“They see him as the migrant president, and so many feel they’re going to reach the United States,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said referring to Biden the morning after a meeting with the president. “We need to work together to regulate the flow, because this business can’t be tackled from one day to the next.”

According to the report, Mexican intelligence believes the cartels are expanding their smuggling methods as the U.S. implements policies that “incentivize migration.”

One Mexican official familiar with the situation said the cartels started improving their methods “from the day Biden took office” and are now showing “unprecedented” refinement in their techniques.

“Migrants have become a commodity,” the official said, adding that people have become as valuable as drugs for the gangs. “But if a packet of drugs is lost in the sea, it’s gone. If migrants are lost, it’s human beings we’re talking about.”