What is Mexico doing to stop flow of migrants, drugs to US?





Mexico City (AFP) - Despite calling himself a champion of migrants' rights, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has actually stepped up detentions of Central Americans crossing Mexico -- just not enough to please Donald Trump.

Mexico's leftist leader scrambled to defend his migration policies Friday after Trump blew up neighborly relations by announcing he would impose tariffs of five percent -- rising to 25 percent by October -- on all Mexican goods "until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied."

"We are doing our job," Lopez Obrador replied.

The anti-establishment politician has gotten a rude wake-up call on the migration issue since sweeping to office in December after a landslide election win.

He initially vowed to break with Mexico's past by warmly welcoming Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty.

His government offered humanitarian visas rather than detaining them, providing access to health services and education during their stay in Mexico.

But as the flow of Central Americans trekking toward the United States has continued to surge -- drawing threats from Trump to close the border and, now, impose tariffs -- Lopez Obrador has had to change his game plan, if not his stump speech.

- Visa restrictions, detentions -

Lopez Obrador still talks of welcoming migrants and safeguarding their rights.

But his actions on the ground have taken a hardline turn.

"There's an inconsistency between the narrative and the reality," said Leticia Calderon of the Mora Institute in Mexico City.

An initial lull in migrant detentions under Lopez Obrador's administration was followed by a surge: from January to April this year, Mexican authorities detained 51,607 migrants, a 17-percent increase from the same period in 2018.

When more than 13,000 migrants applied for humanitarian visas in less than two weeks, the government suspended the program.

Instead, it now gives migrants visas that restrict them to the south of the country, far from the US border.

Originally designed for Central Americans making short visits to southern Mexico for activities like shopping, these "regional visitor visas" are now applied to Africans, Cubans and Haitians as well.

Migrants have not taken kindly to the new policies. They have rioted several times in recent weeks in the euphemistically named "shelters" where the authorities hold them.

Cubans, in particular, have taken umbrage, breaking out of shelters en masse at least six times since March.

"Lopez Obrador opened his mouth too soon," said international relations expert Javier Urbano at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City.

"Promising a total overhaul of migration policy in a matter of weeks was completely out of touch with reality."

Mexican migration policy, he added, "continues to be based primarily on containment and repression."

Nevertheless, migrant detentions at the US southern border continue to rise: in April, border officers apprehended a new record of 58,474 people who crossed in family groups.

- Drugs: another sticky issue -

Lopez Obrador's big idea to stop migration is a 10-year economic development plan for Central America and Mexico that he says will wipe out the root causes of the exodus.

He wants the US to contribute a major part of the $10 billion-a-year budget, and his administration had been in talks with White House officials to that end.

But then Trump lashed out with tariffs over the migration issue -- and doubled down Friday by saying Mexico also needed to stop drug trafficking into the US if it wanted the tariffs lifted.

Lopez Obrador is also in a sticky situation on drug trafficking.

He has declared an end to the bloody "war" that previous governments waged on the country's powerful drug cartels, the main suppliers to the US.

But he has also launched a new, militarized National Guard to fight crime, drawing criticism from human rights groups and disappointing some supporters.

As with migration, he appears powerless to stop the problem: the wave of cartel-fueled violence sweeping Mexico has only gotten worse, and this year is on track to break last year's record of 33,500 murders.

COMMENTS

More Related News

The Latest: Trump claims he was
The Latest: Trump claims he was 'not happy' with chant

President Donald Trump says he "was not happy" when his supporters at a rally Wednesday night in North Carolina chanted "send her back" in reference to Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar. Trump said this weekend that Omar and other progressive Democratic lawmakers of color should leave the country and "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" over their criticism of his administration.

President Trump says US Navy ship destroys Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz
President Trump says US Navy ship destroys Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz
  • World
  • 2019-07-18 20:52:00Z

"The Boxer took defense action against the drone which had closed into a very close distance, approximately a thousand yards, ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship's crew," Trump said at the White House. "This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters," he continued.

Samantha Bee Shocked Kellyanne Conway Somehow Even
Samantha Bee Shocked Kellyanne Conway Somehow Even 'More Racist' Than Trump

TBSSamantha Bee didn't have time to cover all of President Trump's recent "racisms," instead choosing to zero in on his demand that four freshmen Congresswomen of color go back to the countries "from which they came." "Sadly, the only thing that should surprise anyone is that he wrote 'from which they came' to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition," the Full Frontal host joked. "Way to go, Shakespeare, now return your head to the orifice from which it came." "Of course, it wasn't long before spokes-golem Kellyanne Conway leapt to his defense by somehow sounding more racist than her boss," Bee continued before playing the clip of the White House counselor literally responding to a...

'Unfit to be president': House to consider articles of impeachment against Trump

The House voted to kill a measure seeking to impeach President Donald Trump - the first vote on such a measure since Democrats took the majority and since the release of former special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

MS-13 gang members indicted after
MS-13 gang members indicted after 'medieval-style' killing spree in Los Angeles

Federal racketeering, murder and other charges were filed against 22 alleged MS-13 gang members linked to a series of grisly killings in Los Angeles.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.