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
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...