Mexico is reportedly preparing to “significantly reinforce” efforts to contain U.S.-bound migrants infiltrating the country from Central America. The Mexican government’s actions are in response to the record numbers of immigrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, and perhaps the Biden administration pressing them to assist in the current border crisis.
Mexico will “deploy security forces to cut the flow of migrants, the bulk of whom come from Central America’s so-called Northern Triangle of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, whose economies were battered by the coronavirus pandemic and hurricanes last year,” Reuters reported, citing “four people familiar with the matter.”
According to Reuters, “Two of the people said the National Guard militarized police, which led efforts to bring down the number of illegal immigrants entering Mexico from Central America during an increase in 2019, would be at the fore of the containment drive.”
An anonymous member of Mexico’s National Guard said, “The operations will be more frequent, more continuous and we will be taking part” next week. The sources did not provide details of the exact strategy Mexico’s National Guard planned on utilizing, but previous plans “have focused on catching migrants on a narrow isthmus in the south of the country, rather then trying to stop all crossings on the Guatemalan border where remote and difficult terrain complicates efforts.”
In June 2019, Mexico sent nearly 15,000 troops and 2,000 National Guard members to the Mexico-Guatemala border to help suppress a migrant surge at the time.
However, the current immigration crisis is reportedly the largest wave of migrants attempting to flood into the United States in the last 20 years, according to a senior official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A report from earlier this month found that one migrant facility was at 729% capacity, and there were purportedly children taking turns sleeping on floors and allowed showers once a week.
After record-high numbers of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. southern border in February, U.S. border officials are bracing for a more massive surge in May.
A recent Washington Post report revealed that “the new administration was holding record numbers of unaccompanied migrant teens and children in detention cells for far longer than legally allowed and federal health officials fell further behind in their race to find space for them in shelters.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration announced Thursday that the U.S. will send 2.5 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico and 1.5 million doses to Canada. The AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has not yet been approved for use in the U.S. yet, and would be a loan.
The New York Times noted that the “announcement came at a time when the Biden administration has been quietly pressing Mexico to ramp up its efforts to limit the flow of migrants.”
“The United States plans to send millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada, the White House said Thursday, a notable step into vaccine diplomacy just as the Biden administration is quietly pressing Mexico to curb the stream of migrants coming to the border,” the New York Times reported.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked during the news conference if there were “strings attached” to the lending of vaccines, and she responded, “Several diplomatic conversations — parallel conversations — many layers of conversations” at play in the discussions.
“There’s rarely just one issue you’re discussing with any country at one time,” Psaki added. “Certainly that’s not the case with Mexico. It’s not the case with any country around the world. And so I wouldn’t read into it more than our ability to provide — to lend — vaccine doses.”
Analysts tell the New York Times that the Biden administration may threaten tariffs against Mexico in order for them to secure the border.
“They get to look like the good guys, and the Mexicans look like the bad guys,” immigration consultant Cris Ramon said of the Biden administration pressuring Mexico to secure the U.S. southern border. “All the positive humanitarian policies are being done by the Biden administration, and then the Mexicans are left with the dirty work.”