85°F
weather icon Clear

Mexico says it has slowed migrant flow 56% in 3 months

MEXICO CITY — Under threat of crippling U.S. tariffs, Mexico said Friday it had reduced the flow of migrants arriving at its northern border by 56% in three months.

Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said he believes Mexico’s strategy of cracking down on illegal migration with a National Guard deployment, investment in Central America and allowing the U.S. to make more asylum seekers wait in Mexico is enough to avert President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports.

Ebrard is scheduled to meet with U.S. officials Tuesday at the White House to review the progress.

“We’re showing that the strategy that Mexico put forward has been successful,” Ebrard said. “I don’t expect a tariff threat Tuesday because it wouldn’t make sense.”

Using U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, Ebrard said the number of migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in August was 63,989, down from 144,266 in May. Ebrard’s numbers include those who presented themselves at U.S. ports of entry and were deemed inadmissible.

Mexico has reinforced security on its porous southern border and set up checkpoints on highways leading north, deploying 21,600 police and troops across the nation. Ebrard said there had been seven formal complaints of human rights violations involving the National Guard, a relatively low number which he saw as another sign of success.

Economic plan

The enforcement has been paired with an incipient economic development plan. Mexico has agreed with Honduras and El Salvador to expand a tree planting program that aims to keep farmers on their land through direct payments and provide them with income-generating fruit and timber trees.

Mexico has committed $60 million to that program and another to create job opportunities for youth.

Some 4,300 Central American migrants are working in Mexico’s version of that program in the south, Ebrard said.

Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador, a leftist who took office Dec. 1 promising better treatment of migrants, instead has embraced the fight against migrant smuggling.

In recent weeks, he has seldom mentioned the U.S. pressure and depicts the crackdown on migrants as a struggle to defend Mexican laws. His administration has taken a tough line against hundreds of African migrants waiting in the southern city of Tapachula for transit visas that Mexico no longer hands out.

“We will not budge,” he said after the Africans protested, “because the recent events in Tapachula aim to make Mexico yield and oblige us to give out certificates so migrants can get into the United States. We cannot do that. It isn’t our job.”

Migrant caravans effectively stopped

He said migrant caravans once tolerated by Mexico were the work of human traffickers, and effectively ended them.

“All of these people who traffic with migrants’ needs for jobs, safety and welfare, they are committing a crime and they will be punished,” López Obrador said last week. “We are already doing this in Mexico, without violating human rights. We are ensuring there isn’t anarchy, disorder.”

Migrant-rights activists say López Obrador is simply dressing up the fact that he yielded to Trump’s pressure tactics.

“Mexico is just trying to comply with the U.S. (demands) and cut down on migration, but it is improvising and violating the law,” said Javier Martínez, a lawyer for the Casa del Migrante shelter in the northern city of Saltillo. “We are seeing things we never saw before.”

Mexico has raided freight trains that migrants ride north, and pulled thousands off buses and out of the freight compartments of trucks. The government has warned bus and taxi drivers they could lose their permits if they transport migrants.

Activists say that has forced migrants to hike through unpopulated areas to avoid checkpoints, exposing them to greater risk from thieves, muggers and rapists who lie in wait.

Nearly 2.2K found in trucks

Ebrard said Friday that authorities had found 2,186 migrants inside 35 tractor trailers and said that nearly 40% were minors. Ebrard said 357 people had been charged in migrant-smuggling cases.

The Rev. Alejandro Solalinde, who runs a migrant shelter in the southern state of Oaxaca, said Mexico essentially had no choice.

“It was the least worse choice,” Solalinde said of the government’s decision. “Given that Donald Trump is an unstable person, full of surprises, we had to make this deal.”

All of that has left migrants like Jose Bento, a 30-year-old from Congo, feeling like they have been caught in the middle and left in limbo.

“We are in a jail without walls,” said Bento, who has spent four months travelling though South and Central America in a bid to reach the United States. “This is a policy of lies. We are considered as animals.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Stanley Cup champion Blues visit Trump at White House

Like previous NHL champions, they decided to keep with the long-held tradition of visiting the president at the White House.

Russia becomes de facto power broker in northern Syria

Russia moved to fill the void left by the United States in northern Syria, deploying troops Tuesday to keep apart advancing Syrian government and Turkish forces.

Bolton called Giuliani a ‘hand grenade,’ testifies ex-White House aide

Fiona Hill, a former White House adviser on Russia, told House impeachment investigators behind closed doors that she had strongly and repeatedly objected to the ouster earlier this year of former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, according to a person familiar with the testimony.

Biden, Warren, Sanders face scrutiny as 12 Democrats debate Tuesday

A dozen Democratic presidential candidates will meet Tuesday for the most crowded presidential debate in modern history. But it’s the three leading candidates — Biden, Sanders and Warren — who face the most intense spotlight.