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For Mexico, control over its southern border offers some protection from the spasmodic blows of the Trump presidency. Xenophobia and criminality make southern Mexico increasingly perilous for refugees and migrants. The Mexican government, with the support of Central American states, the European Union EU and Washington itself, should strive to reinforce refugee protection, crime prevention and development in the area.

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Elected in part on a tough anti-immigration stance, President Trump has planted deep uncertainty in the minds of many who might seek to enter the country. After falling sharply in , arrests by the U. Border Patrol are again on the rise. Humanitarian workers and migrants themselves report acute anxiety over what lies in wait for those who do get across. For many of those leaving Central America, their final destination is now closer, and often less welcoming. The number of Latin Americans applying for refugee status in Mexico jumped 66 per cent in Understaffed and overstretched, the Mexican system for adjudicating asylum cases is close to collapse: when two earthquakes struck Mexico in September , the national refugee agency was briefly paralysed.

Many applicants, including children, languish in detention centres, awaiting the verdict as to whether they will be granted protection.

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Homicide rates in the southern states of Oaxaca, Quintana Roo and Veracruz are above the national average and rising. Kidnappings have soared across the south since The proliferation of cartels and gangs has intensified turf battles over protection rackets.

Long the victims of crime while travelling north, Central Americans must now run an extended gauntlet of criminal organisations ready to kidnap, physically and sexually abuse or kill them. Gangs have even staged raids on migrant shelters. Yet, in many border towns, locals perceive Central Americans themselves as responsible for the rise in crime, prompting a backlash, including calls for southern Mexico to build a wall of its own.

Refugees and migrants face increasing discrimination and are often trapped between erratic state institutions, predatory criminals and alarmed locals.

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But the realities of its southern frontier impede effective and judicious migration management. The long and porous border, unceasing flight from Central America, and the presence of potent trafficking groups make border control fitful and ineffective. Combined civil and military operations to seal the border have not halted the flows, and the coercive measures Mexico relies upon appear not to identify adequately those in need of protection, or ensure those in transit are free from threats and abuse by criminal groups and corrupt state officials.

As southern Mexican states become assembly points for migrants and refugees from the region, Mexico, with the support of Central American countries, the EU and potentially the U. With a new president due to be elected on 1 July, the Mexican state, supported by foreign donors, should redouble crime prevention efforts; ensure that all national and international bodies engaged in refugee and migrant protection, including UN agencies and Central American consulates, coordinate efforts and target areas where threats are most acute; and promote a realistic regional approach to the migration issue that helps Northern Triangle countries deter emigration through greater economic opportunity and a reduction in crime and violence.

Latin American governments should expand their efforts to distribute refugees more evenly across the region, building on existing initiatives to strengthen shared regional responses to the challenge. The geopolitics of migration must not delay or dilute attempts to lessen the perils that refugees and migrants face.

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To prevent the spread of organised crime, violence and xenophobia, and to support security and development on the Mexico-Central America border:. In the latter stages of the Cold War, thousands of Central Americans arrived in the border area after escaping civil wars.

At that time, Mexico ramped up its support for peace talks in El Salvador and Guatemala, leading to the voluntary repatriation of refugees in the s. But this time, control of the southern frontier is not a local issue. Bush intended to broker an agreement on immigration. Hide Footnote After the attacks, they abandoned those plans in favour of enhanced security cooperation with a counter-terrorism focus between the U.

bad blood murder or self defense on the mexican border Manual

Hide Footnote Mexico adapted its immigration policy to the new security priorities by establishing Plan South, a system of police and military surveillance, and by deferring to the U. Hide Footnote. Plan South aimed to deter Central American emigration to the U. The governments of Mexico and the seven Central American countries converted it into the Mesoamerican Integration and Development Project in Hide Footnote Neither scheme had adequate resources or realistic targets.

At least since , the number of Mexicans leaving the U. Hide Footnote Coinciding with a crisis of unaccompanied children arriving at the U. It also analysed the mistreatment Central Americans endure during their journey through Mexico. This report focuses on the latest southern border dynamics and their connection to the chill in U.

Although leading U. The report takes measure of the rising tide of xenophobia on the southern border, and the difficulties faced by the Mexican government and society in integrating Central Americans. Around interviews were carried out in these areas between July and March , as well as in Aguascalientes, Oaxaca and Mexico City, with government officials, migrants and refugees, human rights activists, victims of violence and specialists in migration. Since launching his presidential campaign in , Donald Trump has frequently resorted to anti-Mexican bombast.

And some, I assume, are good people. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. Hide Footnote He has threatened to build a wall on the U.

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  • Hide Footnote Mexican political and economic elites are determined to preserve a close working relationship for the sake of financial stability, the value of the peso, and the flow of investment and bilateral trade. Hide Footnote Mexican leaders have stressed the benefits of this relationship to the U. But their approach has come at a cost in Mexico, above all to the popularity of senior government figures. Hide Footnote The interdependence of the Mexican and U.

    Hide Footnote The fundamental aim, which Videgaray has acknowledged in public, is to treat the main issues in U. After strengthening consular resources to protect Mexican nationals in the U. Hide Footnote In particular, he has tried to convince his U. Hide Footnote During a meeting with then U. The migratory phenomenon today has its main origin in the sister countries of Central America, normally those that make up the Northern Triangle: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

    We have agreed that the governments of Mexico and the United States must assume a shared responsibility, with an approach that not only includes migration control, but also addresses the real causes of migration, such as the development and stability of these nations. Over the course of , Mexico confirmed its interest in consolidating military co-operation with the U.

    Engagement of the Mexican armed forces in efforts to control migratory flows from Central America dates back several years. The Mexican navy created a Southern Border Program in , establishing three security cordons on or close to the border.

    Indigenous Guatemalan woman shot dead by US Border Patrol

    These cordons included security checks right on the border; a system of checkpoints in areas close to it, where so-called Comprehensive Border Transit Centres were located, bringing together personnel from the navy, army and federal police, as well as prosecutors, customs officials, municipal and state authorities, and representatives of the National Institute of Migration INM ; and a containment zone along a line between Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz and Salina Cruz, Oaxaca ie, across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec , through the establishment of joint operation bases to fight human trafficking and smuggling.

    This program evolved into the Southern Border Plan, coordinated by the Secretariat of the Interior since The plan stipulates that migration officials are to work closely with the military, as well as federal and state police, to enforce controls. Hide Footnote In addition, the plan provides for issuing registered migrants a Mexican regional visitor card and a worker visitor card, which guarantee them health care and other social services.

    The military already has the pre-eminent role in running the Southern Border Plan, and the civilian component is getting smaller still. Hide Footnote Meanwhile, the Mexican navy, responding to another freedom of information request, sent documents showing that, in August , marines helped set up security cordons to remove immigrants from freight trains, while the navy, at least until , was organising new border surveillance projects.

    Hide Footnote At the same time, the limited progress made in efforts to ensure civil legal jurisdiction over military crimes and human rights violations stokes fears that abuses of power in border control by the armed forces will go unpunished. In addition to stressing bilateral military cooperation, Videgaray has sought to dispel U. Hide Footnote The balm to soothe these complaints, he says, is economic development in Central America spurred by Mexico.

    Kelly and Tillerson also attended. Mexico committed itself to supporting regional development through the Mesoamerican Integration and Development Project, a regional mechanism including Central America, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Hide Footnote It also undertook to coordinate its efforts with the Alliance for Prosperity — a partnership set up by the three Northern Triangle countries and funded through the U.

    Strategy for Engagement in Central America with the aim of reducing migration through economic growth and a crackdown on criminal gangs. Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries also expressed support for the integration of gas markets in the region. Deeper economic cooperation is also what senior U. Speaking at the May launch of a report on the effect of job creation in Central America on U. But both countries also threaten to hold progress in these areas hostage to desiderata in other crucial talks, such as the renegotiation of NAFTA. We know that Mexico is an important country for [Americans] in commercial matters.

    We also know that for the United States Mexico is an important country in terms of security, in the fight against organised crime, prevention of terrorism and, of course, immigration cooperation. All these issues are important for both parties, a reality that arises from the coexistence that geography has given us.

    Mexico’s Southern Border: Security, Violence and Migration in the Trump Era

    This is a variable that the government of the United States has to take into account and, in addition, I believe that the effect would be lasting. In the run-up to the 1 July presidential election in Mexico, they question every aspect of the bilateral relationship.

    Hide Footnote By large margins, Mexicans dislike Trump. Among the 85 per cent who have heard of the U. Antipathy for Trump is translating into distrust of the U. The same pollster found that 66 per cent of Mexicans had a favourable opinion of the U. One protester at an anti-Trump march explained as follows:. I admire the American people very much ….

    The problem in Mexico is that our leaders have stolen so much that now we have little left to fight back against Trump and his policies. Enhanced enforcement and surveillance explain part of the decline, as does a resort to more remote and dangerous routes by those travelling north. The Trump administration has shown itself determined to curb arrivals from Mexico, the Northern Triangle and the Caribbean.

    Over the next year and a half, the U.