Mexico Builds Its Own Wall Against Migrants

James Fredrick and Jude Webber, FT, September 14, 2016

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Zero net immigration of Mexicans into the US and an 82 per cent fall in people caught trying to cross the US-Mexico border in the past 10 years means that most would-be immigrants detained there are Central Americans. Even without Mr Trump’s fortress frontier, Mexico finds itself under increasing pressure to stem the migrant tide near its source–its own southern border.

“Mexico has become a wall for migrants,” said Sister Magdalena Silva, co-ordinator of Cafemin, a privately run shelter in Mexico City that takes in refugee families, including Rosa’s. “The current policy is to arrest migrants to stop them from getting to the US border.”

The UN estimates 400,000 Central Americans cross illegally into Mexico each year and as many as half of those are fleeing violence. The majority are quickly deported back to dangerous homes.

Unlike in the US, Mexico has broadened asylum laws to recognise that fleeing violence of the kind practised by the street gangs of Honduras and El Salvador can classify someone as a refugee. But the odds are still stacked against asylum seekers: Mexico deported a record 175,000 Central Americans last year, up 68 per cent from the previous year and nearly two-and-a-half times the number deported by the US.

The US is coy about its role in Mexico’s crackdown but is sending $75m in equipment and training to help stop Central Americans from crossing illegally into Mexico. {snip}

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Although Mexico grants asylum to more Central Americans than does the US, Sister Magdalena estimates about seven out of 10 people who stay in her shelter still end up heading north.

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