Mexico will deport migrants from border cities to their homeland: this is how the US hopes to reduce the influx of refugees
Mexico has reached an agreement with the United States to deport migrants from its border cities to their home countries. It will take a series of actions to deter migrants as part of new efforts to combat a recent rise in border crossings, reports CNN.
Mexican officials met with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials Sept. 22 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico—across the border from El Paso, Texas—following a recent surge in illegal border crossings into the United States. The US temporarily closed the international bridge and suspended the main freight train system from Mexico.
Mexico has agreed to "depressurize" its northern cities bordering El Paso, San Diego and Eagle Pass, Texas, where the mayor has declared a state of emergency. They are also implementing more than a dozen actions to prevent migrants from risking their lives using the rail system to reach the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Mexico's National Institute of Migration.
The tipping point
The number of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border is rising - more than 8600 in 24 hours this week. That's up from the roughly 3500 daily arrests at the border since Title 42 expired in May, leading to new consequences for those crossing the border illegally. On September 18, more than 8000 people were detained.
Nonprofits and officials in border communities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico line, from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, say the current surge in migration may be caused by, among other things, disinformation and an increase in kidnappings in Mexico.
The busiest sectors are Del Rio, El Paso, Lower Rio Grande Valley and Tucson.
About 6500 migrants are in custody in El Paso alone, which "doesn't have a lot of resources," Mayor Oscar Lizer said at a Sept. 23 news conference.
“We have reached what we now consider to be a tipping point,” the mayor said.
A refugee shelter on the city's northeast side will open on the evening of Sept. 30 as the city faces an unprecedented surge of migrants crossing the southern U.S. border, Deputy City Manager Mario D'Agostino said at a news conference.
The shelter, which will operate out of the Nations Tobin Recreation Center, has been in preparation for "the last couple of weeks," D'Agostino said. The facility accommodates approximately 400 people.
El Paso is receiving more than 2000 additional migrants each day, D'Agostino said. The city is expecting a "large influx" over the next few days.
The US Department of Defense is increasing resources at the border. It will send at least 800 new active-duty troops to join the 2500 National Guard members already serving.
Mexico's top diplomat noted that her country faces its own challenges due to the recent surge. Mexico receives about 6000 migrants daily at its southern border, half of them from Central American countries, Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena said at a news conference at the UN on September 22.
On one day last week, about 11 migrants reached Mexico's border with the United States, Barcena said. She said Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wants to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington in November to discuss migration as well as drug and firearms trafficking issues.
Mexico agreed to take 15 steps
The Sept. 22 meeting included Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Troy Miller, Commissioner of Mexico's National Institute of Migration, the governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, members of the Mexican National Defense and National Guard, and representatives of Ferromex, the Mexican railroad operator.
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Mexican officials have pledged to implement a series of 15 actions as part of the agreement. Some of these will be carried out in coordination with Customs and Border Protection and Ferromex, which includes deporting migrants to their home countries by land and air.
The country said it would hold talks with the governments of Venezuela, Brazil, Nicaragua, Colombia and Cuba to confirm the return of their citizens deported from the US-Mexico border. It would also allow U.S. Border Patrol agents to expel migrants across the Ciudad Juarez International Bridge, which connects to El Paso.
Miller called for coordinated efforts to reduce growing illegal migration and allow legitimate trade and travel to continue. He reiterated the need for coordinated interaction, including mirror patrols with local Mexican law enforcement agencies.
“We continue to work closely with our partners in Mexico to improve security and address illegal migration along our shared border,” Miller said. “The United States and Mexico remain committed to stemming the flow of illegal migration driven by unscrupulous smugglers while maintaining access to legal routes.”
According to Mexico's National Institute of Migration, other terms of the agreement include:
- Providing daily reports on the number of migrants in the rail system to the El Paso Customs and Border Protection Sector.
- Establishment of checkpoints along the Ferromex railway route.
- Carrying out interventions on railways and roads.
From January 1 to September, Mexico deported more than 788 migrants.
Many who leave their homes and move to the United States face a long and dangerous journey in hopes of finding a better and safer life. Some may be fleeing violence, while others may immigrate in search of economic opportunity or family reunification, experts say. Worsening conditions in Latin America, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, have also contributed to the influx of migrants to the United States.
But even increased deportations from Mexico are unlikely to affect one factor behind the recent increase in border crossings. Rising violence in some regions of Mexico has led to increased migration, said Ariel Ruiz Soto, senior policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute in Washington. He noted that the number of Mexican families coming to the border and possibly seeking asylum has "increased markedly."
In July 2022, 4000 Mexican families were encountered at the border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. A year later, the number had more than quadrupled to nearly 22.
This is not the first time Mexico has agreed to help the US with immigration enforcement.
In 2019, experts said the massive deployment of Mexico's National Guard troops played a major role in blocking migrants' efforts to reach the border.
The Border Patrol's top cop said Sept. 24 that smugglers were to blame for the latest surge in migration.
“Smugglers smuggle these large groups of people for financial gain and use them to bring deadly drugs and violent criminals into the United States,” said U.S. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens.
Department of Homeland Security officials, who last week announced increased resources at the border, have not given a clear explanation of what might be contributing to the latest surge. They said they were still looking into the specific reasons.
The Border Patrol was turning over about 600 migrants a day to nonprofits last week, up from about 400 a day last month, according to Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in McAllen, Texas.
Pimentel said the sudden increase in the number of migrants crossing ports of entry could be partly due to an increase in kidnappings, threats and extortion in the Mexican cities of Matamoros and Reynosa.
Migrants arriving at the shelter are mostly from Honduras, but there are also people from Ecuador, Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela, Pimentel said.
In neighboring Matamoros, Mexico, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, about 4500 migrants are waiting in shelters and camps, said Glady Edith Cañas, who runs the nonprofit Ayudandoles a Triunfar.
Cañas says misinformation, which can spread very quickly among migrant networks, is forcing some migrants to cross borders between ports of entry.
Those who cross the border are processed by U.S. border officials, she said. Those released into American cities send videos to migrants waiting in Mexico telling them they have been “cleared” to enter the country.
“Migrants are filled with hope,” Cañas said. “Information spreads so quickly that they cross the river, putting their lives in danger.”
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Across the border from San Diego in Tijuana, Mexico, about 5500 migrants are waiting in the city's shelters, according to Enrique Lucero, the city's director of migrant affairs.
Like Cañas, Lucero says migrants are becoming desperate and crossing the border illegally because of misinformation being spread by migrant families who have received a parole from immigration authorities.
The number of migrants has risen from 300 a day to 500 or even 900 a day, said Valeria Wheeler, executive director of the Mission.
Wheeler said most of the migrants were Venezuelans and stayed in the city for about one night. And she said she expects the increase in the number of migrants entering the country to continue this week.
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