MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) — Mexican immigration policy is increasingly militarized, with the armed forces making the largest number of arrests, and many of them are arbitrary, based on racial profiling, or have involved abuse, especially of women. .
These are the main conclusions of the report presented on Tuesday by six organizations with a long history in the defense of human rights and of migrants in particular, including the Foundation for Justice and the Democratic State of Law, Without Borders and the Institute for Women in Migration.
According to the report, there is a disproportionate deployment of the military compared to the number of immigration agents and it is the armed forces that carry out most of the arrests of migrants, although by law they should be “mere aid.”
The document recalls that although the trend comes from before this administration, the pressure of former President Donald Trump in 2019 towards the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador accelerated the deployment of the National Guard, a body theoretically under civilian command but operationally under control. military and whose majority of members do not have police training.
According to the report, this situation has led to abuses that have mainly affected people of African origin and women and that often take place in mobile migration controls, which were considered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last week precisely for that reason. .
The document also highlights the lack of clarity and the contradictions between the institutions themselves regarding the arrests, called “rescue” or “presentations” by the Mexican authorities.
The report indicates that from 2019 to the first months of 2021, the National Migration Institute (INM) said that the Navy collaborated in making less than fifty people available while that force itself responded that there were more than 500.
In the case of the National Guard, the INM spoke of its participation in more than 2,000 presentations of migrants and the Guard of more than 15,000. And in the case of the Army, the immigration agency indicated that it had collaborated in the “rescue” of some 300 people while, according to the Secretary of Defense, between all the armed forces there were more than 156,000 migrants in a period in which the total number of those presented before migration was about 190,000.
This militarization became more intense “with the placement of soldiers in strategic positions within the INM structure itself,” as published by The Associated Press in September 2019..
On the abuses committed by the military against migrants, the report does not give figures but exposes some cases of discrimination against black people, extortion or even sexual abuse of women.
Some of the signatory organizations have already brought appeals to court to denounce some of these practices, such as mass deportations or the militarization of public security, aspects also criticized by United Nations agencies.
The Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico has yet to rule on several resources linked to the National Guard.
The López Obrador government has given the armed forces more and more powers, from the construction of large infrastructures to the control of customs, the cultivation of nurseries, the distribution of medicines and migration.
The president has reiterated on numerous occasions that it is a way to fight corruption because, in his opinion, the military are more reliable. In fact, when he came to power in 2018, he defined the INM as one of the most corrupt institutions in Mexico. López Obrador has also insisted that all the armed forces operate with full respect for human rights and that abuses are not tolerated.
In August of last year, in a statement that was unusual for its clarity, Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval emphasized that the “main” objective of the Army, Navy, and National Guard was to “stop all migration” and “cover the northern border, the southern border with troops.”
According to Sandoval, at that time more than 14,000 soldiers and members of the National Guard were deployed, working together with as many public security elements from the borders with Guatemala and Belize to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the narrowest part of southern Mexico.
Ken Salazar, the United States ambassador to Mexico, said last week at a press conference that he defended this approach of greater control in the south and specifically in the isthmus because there “are the keys to solve the problems that we now have about the flow of migration” and “it is also part of the security solution” since it is easier to control a strip of 300 kilometers than the entire border with the United States, which is more than 3,000 kilometers long.