Over the last 20 years, Mexico has been a prime exporter of migrants trying to reach the US border. From being a net to a principal exporter, Mexico has exported many Central American migrants from countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to the US. Since 2017, around 1 million migrants have crossed Mexico’s southern border to reach America.
This vast migration has profoundly affected the relationship between the US and Mexico. Also, Mexico’s immigration policy has faced a major crackdown by the US government.
In the mid-2000s, the US encouraged the Mexican government to take a tough stance on Central American migrants. They enforced the outsourcing of immigration to the country. The US government gave a considerable amount of money to the Mexican administration to strengthen controls on their borders.
Plus, they asked the president about immigration to make efforts to implement measures that could appeal to the migrants and encourage them to take refuge in Mexico rather than the US. However, this enforcement didn’t work well and was ineffective in alleviating the migrant flow reaching the US border.
Migration In The Trump Era
In 2017, when Trump came into power, this policy was enforced more harshly. Firstly, the Trump administration put a daily limit on asylum seekers and set temporary camps for them along the US-Mexican border. The situation was eased when the Mexican President Lopez Obrador took charge. He stopped all harsh treatment on migrants and set up an integrated development plan for Central America.
Both countries signed a “Migration Protection Protocol,” ensuring a trouble-free wait for asylum seekers. According to the protocol, asylum seekers who have made their initial applications in the US would be sent to Mexico. While their applications are in process, they are free to find jobs, accommodation, and start living independently.
As the protocol simplified conditions to a great extent, Mexico started receiving a huge number of asylum seekers. In 2019, 11,000 migrants submitted applications for migration. The Trump administration, frustrated over the situation, settled a new agreement with Mexico. To ensure that the Mexican government takes action, President Trump threatened them with a comprehensive tax on all Mexican immigrants.
According to the new policy, 20,000 members of the National Guard were deployed to Mexico’s southern border. They were instructed to stop migrants by only giving them the option of either being deported or talking refuge in Mexico. Furthermore, the Mexican-Guatemalan border has a non-existent infrastructure. So, it was not possible to stop the migrants from entering the Mexican land. Therefore, travel restrictions were also imposed on refugees. They were forced to stay only in the location they had applied for.
These new and harsher policies have given rise to an enormous number of migrants waiting at the border of Mexico. Most importantly, it is getting difficult for Mexican authorities to handle such a large-scale crisis.
The head of the immigration authority has already resigned because of the insufficient resources of the country to meet US demands. The number of migrants returning from the US has outnumbered the ones on the waiting list. A lot of them are accommodated outside the main border, in tent cities. Public protests have begun, jamming the crossings of the Mexican border. Migrants are living in open-air-prisons, and the government is still struggling to find potential solutions.
The United States of America, being such a rich and developed country, attracts a large number of migrants worldwide. People wish to avail of better opportunities that the US has to offer. As Mexico shares a border with Central America, people from neighboring areas use the Mexican border for migration.
However, modern policies give a tough time to refugees, giving rise to various migration issues in Mexico. These migration crises could prevent the Mexican government from executing its main policy projects. However, people are hopeful that President Lopez Obrador will bravely face the situation and come up with suitable plans for national peace.