Tension on the US-Mexico border over migrant flow, US policies

By Carlos Zuñiga and Pedro Pablo Cortes

Tijuana, Mexico, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- Tension, desperation and uncertainty can be felt along the US-Mexico border due to the increase in migrants and the new immigration policies of the Joe Biden administration, which on Wednesday denied that there is any “crisis.”

In Tijuana, the largest Mexican city along the border, confusion reigns at a camp of 1,500 migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba, Haiti and Africa, including 350 children, who are waiting to cross the border into the US.

The migrants have complained that they do not have any sanitary facilities in their tents or leisure spaces and that there is less oversight by the city’s Municipal Police.

“We’re not going to go to a shelter until they give us an answer,” said the people requesting US asylum at the El Chaparral camp, who preferred to remain anonymous because of fears for their safety.

Biden on Feb. 19 resumed processing 25,000 asylum seekers who had been returned to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols, known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, implemented by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Although these migrants do not quality for MPP, they have argued that the media “broadcast” that Biden “would open the doors,” adding that returning to their countries of origin is not an option.

“It’s cruel because the majority of us who are here came because of persecution. We came because of acts of torture or for some other reason, but we’re here to send a message to the authorities that we don’t want to enter (the US) by force,” said a woman from Honduras.

Jose Luis Perez, Tijuana’s migrant attention director, called for the intervention of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration, saying that there was no federal presence here.

In contrast to May 2019, when Trump pressured the Mexico government to halt the migrant flow with the Mexican armed forces today there is no such exclusively military deployment.

The Mexican government has deployed more than 7,770 agents of the National Guard, a military police force, in the four southern border states, with 3,484 of them being in Chiapas.

“For the moment, no greater deployment on the southern border is being contemplated, a National Guard spokesman told EFE amid reports of a supposed increase in the force’s presence due to the increased migrant flow.

US Customs and Border Protection reported the detention of 100,441 undocumented migrants in February, compared with 78,442 in January.

Although the trend is rising, the figures are still not close to those for May 2019, when the CBP apprehended 132,856 migrants.

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday before Congress denied that there was any migration “crisis,” pointing instead to the “humanitarian crisis” created by Trump’s policies.

Sergio Prieto, a professor with Mexico’s Southern Border College (Ecosur) told EFE that “Now, we’re once again hearing the word crisis and we’re seeing an increase in this kind of policy of militarization and migration control, so we’re seeing that there’s a cause and effect between this language and policies.”

The immigration studies and cross-border processes researcher said that the increase in the migration flow from Central America is due to the worsening of poverty and violence in the region combined with the US change in government.

Any policy changes are only ones of form, not substance and it is certain that there’s been a very sharp change in rhetoric, he said, adding that Biden is not assuming a position of hegemony vis-a-vis Mexico or as belligerant a stance as Trump, but “obviously (immigration) continues to be a matter of US national security.”


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