Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Report: Mexico’s immigration enforcement relies on military

Mexico City ( Associated Press) — Mexico’s immigration enforcement is being increasingly militarized with the armed forces and the National Guard now detaining more migrants than immigration agents, according to a report published Tuesday by six non-governmental organizations. is in.

Human rights and migrant advocacy groups, among them the Foundation for Justice and the Democratic State of Law, say that many detentions based on racial profiling are also arbitrary and have led to abuse.

The armed forces are believed to have only been supporting immigration agents in their work, but organizations have found that they are now responsible for most of the detentions.

Between June 2019 and December 2020, the Armed Forces and the National Guard detained more than 152,000 migrants along Mexico’s southern border, according to public information requests made by the Civil Defense Program at Iberoamericana University. During the same period the Interior Ministry reported that 190,000 migrants had been presented to immigration officials.

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According to the report, Mexico was already moving towards an increased reliance on the military, but it has accelerated under President Andres Manuel López Obrador. In 2019, under pressure from then US President Donald Trump, López Obrador deployed the newly created National Guard, a security force in theory civilian but actually under military control.

At the time, non-governmental organizations and the United Nations expressed concern that the shift to more militarized enforcement would lead to abuse. Even the leadership of the National Immigration Institute was replaced, with a sociologist schooled in immigration being replaced by the head of Mexico’s prisons. Military officers, some retired, were designated to head at least eight state offices of the Institute.

The report states that African-origin migrants, and women in particular, have been subjected to abuse, including discrimination, extortion and sexual abuse. Groups participating in the report have brought lawsuits in some of those cases.

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A particular problem has been mobile checkpoints along highways, which were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court only last week because they lead to racial profiling.

Last August, Defense Secretary Luis Crescencio Sandoval said 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”.

US Ambassador Ken Salazar told a news conference last week that focusing on Mexico’s southern border and the narrow site just above it was “the key to solving the problems we now have about migration flows, given that it was easier to control a line of 300 kilometers (186 mi) than the entire US-Mexico border spanning more than 3,000 kilometers (1,864 mi).


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