Mexico’s Raid On Migrants Marks A Shift In Method To Caravans


“The federal government had all the time tried to cease the caravans, however by no means at this scale or so out within the open.”

Posted on April 26, 2019, at 11:38 p.m. ET


Moises Castillo / AP

A Central American migrant is detained by Mexican immigration brokers on the freeway to Pijijiapan, Mexico.

A shock raid by Mexican authorities on a caravan of migrants touring via the nation this week marks a dramatic shift within the nation’s response to giant teams of Central American migrants and raises questions over whether or not future caravans will be capable to traverse the nation throughout what is usually the annual migration peak.

Mexican immigration brokers together with federal police raided a bunch of Central American migrants touring on foot Monday within the southern state of Chiapas. Officers stated the operation resulted within the detention of 371 males, ladies, and kids — the biggest single raid on a caravan for the reason that teams started touring via the nation final yr and a reversal from Mexico’s earlier strategy.

Final fall, a number of giant teams consisting principally of Central American migrants entered Mexico and had been granted passage to proceed their journey towards the US. Whereas the primary of the caravans confronted a standoff on the Guatemala-Mexico border with police in riot gear lobbing tear fuel, migrants had been later supplied humanitarian visas, and the choice to use for asylum and a piece allow. It additionally gave individuals the flexibility to journey via Mexico with out worry of being detained by immigration brokers.

Alex Mensing, a member of the non-profit Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which beforehand organized migrant caravans in Mexico however is not concerned within the newest one, stated the nation continues to detain and deport undocumented migrants, fueled partly by strain from the US.

“Although that is positively a shift in how they reply to caravans,” Mensing informed BuzzFeed Information. “The federal government had all the time tried to cease the caravans, however by no means at this scale or so out within the open.”


Moises Castillo / AP

A Central American migrant lady and her son stroll with a Mexican Federal Police agent as they’re taken into custody.

In the summertime of 2014, a bunch of migrants following the success of a bigger caravan, had been raided by Mexican immigration brokers. Then in 2017, Mexican authorities stopped migrants in a caravan using on high of “The Beast,” a community of freight trains migrants typically use to traverse Mexico.

“We’re seeing the violent illustration of what has all the time been the plan,” Mensing stated. “It isn’t a change in coverage however a change in habits that is all the time been their coverage.”

Monday’s raid resulted within the breakup of the three,000-person caravan, sending migrants scrambling into the close by hills looking for hiding. Photographs of immigration brokers pulling kids into vans from their crying moms had been launched shortly after.

“They need to kill us in our nation,” a crying lady stated as she was compelled right into a van by brokers and police.

Audio recorded by migrants touring within the caravan and obtained by BuzzFeed Information reveal a chaotic scene that resulted in lots of fleeing into the hills with out meals or water. Maciel, a lady who declined to make use of her full title and was amongst those that hid after the raid, stated authorities aggressively apprehended ladies and kids.

“They didn’t care if that they had children of their arms,” Maciel stated.

Mexican immigration officers maintained that the raid was a part of regular immigration enforcement and stated that the nation had deported 11,800 migrants up to now this month.


Moises Castillo / AP

A Central American migrant youngster cries as she is requested to get into an immigration automobile as she is detained on the freeway to Pijijiapan, Mexico.

Whereas Monday’s raid was the biggest in a while, it wasn’t the one latest one Mexican authorities have launched. Final week, Mexican immigration brokers and federal police detained 250 Central American migrants in Chiapas state, based on native information reviews.

“They performed a raid on the entrance to Mapastepec and detained principally ladies and children since some males fled to the hill,” Heyman Vazquez Medina, a priest and director of the shelter No One Is A Foreigner, informed La Jornada.

At a press convention Tuesday, Mexico’s overseas minister Marcelo Ebrard maintained the nation’s immigration insurance policies haven’t modified. Ebrard rejected the concept that Mexico performed the raid over strain from the US to cease migrants from reaching the border.

“We’ve not had communication with the White Home in latest days,” Ebrard informed reporters. “There isn’t any official communication the place Mexico is being informed it’s a must to do that and we are saying sure.”

On the identical time, Ebrard stated that for the primary time Mexico was the USA’ largest business associate, noting a three.four% improve in alternate quantity in January and February.

“Going towards this relationship could be very expensive,” the overseas minister stated.

Ebrard had beforehand stated in a tweet that “Mexico doesn’t act on the idea of threats” following warnings from President Trump in March that he would shut the southern border if Mexico did not cease “ALL unlawful immigration.”


Moises Castillo / AP

A Central American migrant pushing a baby in a child carriage is detained by a Mexican immigration agent from behind.

Mexico’s new president Andrés Manuel López Obrador campaigned on the promise that he wouldn’t “do the soiled work of overseas governments” in stopping Central American migrants. But beneath his administration Mexican officers have continued to dam migrants from accessing official border crossings to ask for asylum. Within the metropolis of Piedras Negras throughout from Eagle Go, Texas, Mexican police and troopers held a caravan of 1,600 Central Individuals inside an previous manufacturing unit permitting solely a restricted few with humanitarian visas to go away. All of this amid mounting strain from the USA.

Probably the most controversial coverage the Mexican authorities has allowed the Trump administration to implement, regardless of calling it a unilateral determination, is the so-called “Stay in Mexico” initiative that forces asylum-seekers to attend in Mexico whereas their immigration instances are heard within the US. A file breaking backlog within the immigration court docket system means lots of these returned, almost 2,000 based on a Mexican official, must wait in Mexican border cities for months or years.

Mexico had been beneath strain to cease migrants from reaching the US border even earlier than Trump took workplace. One push got here after unaccompanied Central American kids arrived on the US border in unprecedented numbers throughout former president Barack Obama’s second time period. In 2014, with US prodding and funding, Mexico created what is named the Southern Border Program to cease Central Individuals and ship them dwelling. In that program’s first yr, Mexico doubled the variety of individuals it caught and deported.

The file breaking variety of households crossing the US border in latest months has drawn the ire of Trump who has responds with threats to shut the border or reduce off help to Central American nations. Apprehensions on the border sometimes spike within the spring, and the numbers from March and April present no signal of retreating.

Already, US Border Patrol has stated apprehensions for this fiscal yr, which began in October, have soared to greater than 418,000, surpassing final yr’s complete of 404,142. The general apprehension numbers are nonetheless traditionally low, however greater than latest years.

Mensing of Pueblo Sin Fronteras does not consider the raid will cease future caravans from forming, however stated it is potential if the Mexican authorities continues to disrupt the migrant teams.

“This might worsen, I do not see it firming down,” Mensing. “Trump remains to be saying Mexico is not doing sufficient to cease migrants.”

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