Migration

Migration returns in the shadows under the gaze of Biden and López Obrador | International

After a year of a pandemic that crippled the world, throughout 2021 borders gradually abandoned restrictions and returned to normal. And from the hand of this normality came the other; that of thousands of people traveling on the American continent with a single objective: to reach the north.

The economic crisis derived from the pandemic that is hitting Latin America has returned a phenomenon that has reappeared with more force than before. Although emigration carries every possible accent and the increase in people in transit in search of a better future can be observed almost everywhere on the continent, from Ecuador to Venezuela via the Darien jungle, Haiti, Cuba or Central America, in the case of Mexico, the year began with one tragedy and ends with another. On January 22, 16 migrants were shot dead and burned alive in Camargo, Tamaulipas, and on December 9 in Chiapas, southern Mexico, the accident of a caravan in which more than 150 migrants were secretly traveling, claimed the lives of life for 56 undocumented migrants. immigrants and wounded hundreds. The accident showed that if one day caravans became the most visible way to escape – in a more affordable and safer way – and to protest misery, the criminalization of migration sent it back underground and in the dark.

A dozen social organizations, grouped around the Justice Foundation, summed up last week as “a year of setbacks” in the field of human rights for migration and concluded that the border with the United States is ” the deadliest in the world “. According to organizations dedicated to monitoring the rule of law, the past year “reflects the consequences of failed migration policies”. They also criticized the fact that, in their attempt to stop migration, governments such as those of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador have toughened and militarized their migration policies “without measuring the human cost involved” . “The tragedy that migrants experience is painfully daily and often silent,” they noted in their report.

Few countries like Mexico, place of destination, departure and passage of migrants, better summarize the migratory reality of the continent, plunged into one of the biggest waves in its history. In October, Mexico hit a new record for asylum applications with more than 100,000, according to figures from the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar). During the first ten months of the year, the number of requests tripled compared to the same period in 2020 when around 41,000 procedures were counted. Venezuela tops the list of countries from which the most applicants have come in recent years. The UN estimates that some six million Venezuelans have left the Latin American country plunged into a deep economic and political crisis in recent years.

From January to October, Mexico detained 228,115 people and deported 82,627 others, figures that had not been seen for more than 15 years. According to migration statistics, authorities detected an increase of more than 1,000% in the flow of migrants from Venezuela in the first nine months of 2021, compared to five years ago.

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A migrant family rests as they join a caravan heading to Mexico City, Río Frío de Juárez, Mexico.LUIS CORTES (Reuters)

This includes disappearances, executions, extortion, rape, torture and other acts of harassment, as well as violations of the human rights of migrants to which authorities have responded only with patches. The volume is such that criminal organizations dedicated to trafficking in persons have gained strength and presence until they “become independent” from traditional cartels, admitted this week the Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard, who has estimated the money these organizations are each moving at $ 14,000 million. dollars. anus.

The political context has also contributed to the rise in prices caused by polleros. With the reactivation of the Stay in Mexico immigration program by court order, the US government of Joe Biden is recovering one of the most cruel anti-immigrant policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump. Starting in early December, asylum seekers arriving at the southern US border may be returned to unsafe towns on the Mexican border, where they must wait for their appointment with a judge and face kidnappings. and extortion. Although details are unknown, it is expected that the program, which has started to be implemented in Ciudad Juárez, will be extended to other border points such as Tijuana, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros.

To take up this plan, the American president had the backing of his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who became the most effective policeman in the Border Patrol. For the first time, the two governments have acknowledged having negotiated the implementation of the program. It includes points to mitigate the risks of deportees, such as the 180-day maximum limit to stay in Mexico. However, the border remains a hostile and dangerous place for families fleeing threats and persecution with children in hand. Until now, most Central American migrants have been delivered to Mexico in the form of “hot returns” whereby they are deported almost immediately after being intercepted by US immigration authorities. But in recent months, deportations have also started to be carried out by plane to parts of the south of the country like Tabasco, Chiapas or Campeche, where the National Institute of Migration (INM) collects them and expels them to Guatemala or Honduras. . Throughout this agreement, López Obrador has been a staunch partner in getting rid of migrants.

Less than a year after suspending Stay in Mexico (also known as “Migrant Protection Protocols” or MPP), Biden reactivated the program by court order, and those new to the MPP deported will join whoever they are. Rendered by Title 42, the executive order with which Trump legalized express deportation with the covid-19 excuse. Despite Biden’s promises, Trump and the more belligerent Republican collectives continue to have powerful allies. With this panorama, migration returned to its previous format and ceased to be collective, in broad daylight and on busy roads, to once again be individual, nocturnal and vulnerable. Migrant families, who before the pandemic and the MPP surrendered to immigration authorities in the hope that they would release them while a judge rules on their asylum claims, have had to go back into the shadows .

Chilean border police with a Colombian migrant who passed out after being arrested while illegally crossing Peru in September 2021.
MARTIN BERNETTI (AFP)

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