MEXICO CITY, Aug 14, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Mexico said Wednesday it has detained more than 45,000 undocumented immigrants in the past two months, as it seeks to show Washington it is taking action to reduce migration across their shared border.
The Mexican government promised in June to take “unprecedented” steps to slow a recent surge of Central American migrants crossing its territory to the United States, after President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on the country.
Eager to show results, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico had detained 46,616 migrants from June 8 to August 11, after deploying 21,000 National Guardsmen to bolster security on its northern and southern borders.
Trump’s tariff threat has placed Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leftist who took office last December vowing to safeguard migrants’ rights, in the awkward position of now having to crack down on migration.
Speaking alongside Lopez Obrador at a press conference, Ebrard said the government was seeking to protect migrants traveling in unsafe conditions. “They’re climbing onto semi trucks, using false documents, and that puts people at risk,” he said.
He added that Mexico had agreed to fund programs to create 20,000 jobs in El Salvador and 13,000 in Honduras, in a bid to fight the poverty and violence driving the recent exodus from Central America.
Mexico is urging international donors — including the United States — to fund a decade-long, $10-billion-a-year economic development package for the region in order to address the underlying problems driving migration.
The Mexican government has itself pledged $100 million for development programs in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Mexico’s border crack-down appears to be delivering results: the United States detained 82,049 undocumented migrants at its southern border in July — 21 percent fewer than in June and 43 percent fewer than in May, when detentions hit a 13-year high of 144,266.