Dave Graham et al., Reuters, March 17, 2021
Mexico is preparing to significantly reinforce efforts to detain U.S.-bound migrants who illegally cross its border with Guatemala, in response to a jump in people trying to enter the United States, according to four people familiar with the matter.
The U.S. government said this week it is facing the highest number of migrants reaching its border with Mexico in 20 years, presenting authorities a major challenge and sparking concerns inside the Mexican government.
The people familiar with the plan said Mexico would deploy security forces to cut the flow of migrants, the bulk of whom come from Central America’s so-called Northern Triangle of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, whose economies were battered by the coronavirus pandemic and hurricanes last year.
Two of the people said the National Guard militarized police, which led efforts to bring down the number of illegal immigrants entering Mexico from Central America during an increase in 2019, would be at the fore of the containment drive.
“The operations will be more frequent, more continuous and we will be taking part,” from next week, a member of the National Guard said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Mexico’s support is important for U.S. President Joe Biden’s efforts to manage the number of people arriving at the U.S. border, which hit a record for the month in February and is set to tick higher in March, apprehension numbers show. Most people apprehended at the U.S. border are sent back to Mexico.
Mexico also needs U.S help on managing the pandemic. It is lobbying hard for Biden to release some COVID-19 vaccine stocks to help with shortages, saying it expects an answer this week.
Mexican officials had anticipated a sharp escalation in immigration under Biden, with one ruefully noting last month that it would force Mexico “to be the bad guys again.”