Mexico officials detain more migrants as crackdown steps up

Monday, June 24, 2019
By Paul Martin

Oliver De Ros
Sunday, June 23, 2019

ARRIAGA, Mexico (AP) — Authorities reinforced efforts over the weekend to deter Central Americans and others from crossing Mexico to reach the United States, detaining migrants in the south and stationing National Guardsmen along the Rio Grande in the north.

In Arriaga, a town in the southern state of Chiapas, The Associated Press saw about 100 migrants bused to detention Sunday, while Milenio TV reported that 146 more were pulled from a private home in the central state of Queretaro and more than 100 were taken away from a hotel in the Gulf state of Veracruz.

Pressured by the U.S., Mexico’s government has deployed some 6,000 agents of the National Guard, its new militarized policing force, along its southern and northern borders this month.

In Ciudad Juarez, just south of El Paso, Texas, National Guardsmen turned back migrants trying to cross the border over the weekend. The guardsmen patrolled along the Rio Grande with assault rifles.

“The function of these brigades is to try to educate and inhibit people who are at risk,” said Luis Mario Dena Torres, representative of the Chihuahua state governor in Ciudad Juarez.

Many of the National Guardsmen are soldiers and police officers who now wear black armbands indicating they are part of the National Guard.

Some Mexicans worry that the increased enforcement is an overreach.

“The National Guard, in theory, shouldn’t be repressing those who want to cross to the United States,” said Isabel Sanchez, coordinator for a Ciudad Juarez civic group concerned with security and justice.

More broadly, however, stiffer immigration enforcement has popular support in Mexico. More than half the Mexicans surveyed by the newspaper El Universal earlier in June said that authorities should not allow migrants to enter the country and that those found traveling through Mexico without visas should be deported.

Residents of Arriaga expressed a mixture of concern for the migrants they have grown accustomed to hosting and relief that officials are looking to get a better handle on migrant flows.

“As a resident, sometimes you have distrust because with the necessity that they have, they could try to rob or do something to you,” said Rogelio Perez, an accountant. “They’re human beings and they need help, but Mexico can barely employ Mexicans.”

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