Central American migrants arriving at an INM facility in Chiapas

A new report suggests that Mexico's increased enforcement against migrants along its southern border has made migrants more vulnerable to violence. 

According to a report from the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), while Mexico’s border security plan may be stemming migration across the US-Mexico border, it is also increasing abuses against migrants by both criminal organizations and security forces.

The WOLA report details the changes in administrative policy and migration conditions since the initiation of Mexico's so-called Southern Border Program in July 2014.

Under this initiative, Mexico’s government markedly increased security force presence -- especially officers from the National Migration Institute (INM) -- along its southern frontier. This led to a 71 percent increase in apprehensions of Central American migrants between July 2014 and June 2015, compared to the same period in the previous year.

Accompanying this policy was a rise in reported human rights abuses and violent crimes against migrants. According to WOLA, these abuses include robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault, murder and human trafficking. According to data analyzed by Animal Politico, the border state of Chiapas saw a 246 percent increase in reported assaults and a 61 percent increase in robberies since the initiation of the Southern Border Program. 

The WOLA report also stated that many reported cases of criminal groups abusing migrants happens with the "collaboration or acquiescence" of Mexican authorities. Migrants reported robbery, extortion, and physical abuse by security forces, especially the Federal Police. Inhumane detention -- involving verbal, physical and sexual abuse, improper health care, and theft -- by security forces is also common.

InSight Crime Analysis

As the WOLA report makes clear, Mexico’s Southern Border Program may have done more to increase the vulnerability of, and violence against, Central American migrants, rather than creating a safer and more secure border.  

SEE MORE: Coverage of Human Smuggling

Instead of addressing the organized crime and insecurity that drive Central American immigration, Mexican authorities have instead focused on increasing deportations. This stricter policy in Mexico's south has forced migrants to seek out more precarious routes, increasing their vulnerability to attacks and other abuses by criminal groups. Judging by WOLA's findings, it also seems as though the Border Program has done little to address the collusion between the security forces and criminal groups when it comes to abusing migrants. 

All in all, it seems as though the Mexican government still has a ways to go in terms of creating a more humane and effective migration policy. 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
Prev Next

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...