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.
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.
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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.
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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.