Let’s face it: Donald Trump isn’t exactly popular in Mexico. His rhetoric regarding the border and immigration crisis has made him a bit of a piñata to our southern neighbor, with figures including former Mexican President Vicente Fox lining up to take jabs against Trump since he took office.
But something may be changing. First, rising frustration within Mexico regarding Central American migrant caravans in their own cities fostered some of the same attitudes among Mexicans that helped Trump win in 2016.
And now first-year President Andreas Manuel López Obrador of Mexico seems to be actually listening to the U.S. administration, at least in some areas.
That seems to be exactly what happened over the past week. In a move that was likely part of a deal with Washington, authorities in Mexico have arrested caravan organizers for allegedly taking money to illegally transport immigrants.
“Cristobal Sanchez and Irineo Mujica were arrested within an hour of each other last week in different parts of Mexico and flown together to the southern town of Tapachula in Chiapas state for the court hearing on charges they illegally transported immigrants for money,” Reuters reported on Monday.
That could mark a sea change in Mexico’s handling of the migrants coming through their country and into the United States. No matter how you slice it, it’s a huge win for Trump.
“The two men were arrested on Wednesday as the United States and Mexico negotiated a deal,” Reuters explained.
“Mexico agreed to clamp down on people smuggling networks and deploy security forces to curb illegal immigration from Central America.”
One of the main groups encouraging and facilitating the movement of immigrants through Mexico — many of them without legal paperwork — has been Pueblo Sin Fronteras, or “People Without Borders.”
If the organization’s reaction to the Latin American nation’s renewed interest in border enforcement is any sign, Trump’s negotiations have definitely stuck a chord.
“The Mexican government has captured them to present them like trophies to the United States government,” Pueblo Sin Fronteras said in a statement.
But that very group’s actions likely pushed both the U.S. and Mexican governments to crack down on the thousands of immigrants ignoring border rules and moving through their countries.
“U.S. border officials have in the past said Pueblo Sin Fronteras ‘coaches’ migrants to ask for asylum,” Reuters reported. “Earlier this year, [Mexican] Interior Minister Olga Sanchez accused the group of recruiting migrants.”
In addition to allegedly coaching migrants on how to take advantage of the American asylum system, overwhelming authorities and often using false relationships with children to game the system, caravan organizers are now accused of taking money from Central American immigrants in exchange for organized transport.
If authorities are correct, that could be classified as human trafficking, a serious offense that carries hefty prison time.
“Pueblo Sin Fronteras said it was ‘no coincidence’ that the pair was arrested right as Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard was meeting at the White House,” Reuters reported.
“On the day of the arrests, Mexico also froze bank accounts it said were linked to people traffickers and detained more than 350 people arriving from Guatemala with a line of armed police and soldiers, a show of uncommon force,” the news outlet continued.
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