Mexico’s President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto announced plans to create a “border patrol” along Mexico’s porous southern frontier with Guatemala, an initiative which could help combat criminal gangs preying on undocumented migrants who pass through the country.
Peña Nieto also plans to modernize border checkpoints, streamline migration policies, and create an online 24-hour consulate for the estimated 35 million Mexicans living outside the country, reported Milenio.
The purpose of these migration policy reforms is to cut down on illegal border crossings on the Mexico-Guatemala border. Arnulfo Valdivia, Peña Nieto’s transition cabinet’s coordinator for migration issues, said that the plan is to make the border control function like an “intelligent membrane, which keeps out the bad elements and permits the good.”
InSight Crime Analysis
Mexico’s control of its southern border is weak. A 2010 US State Department cable released by WikiLeaks described woefully insufficient manpower and resources along with widespread corruption and negligence on the part of border officials.
According to official statistics cited by Milenio, some 400,000 undocumented migrants cross into Mexico each year with just under 20 percent eventually making it to the United States. Many of the rest live in poverty in Mexico.
One of the greatest dangers faced by migrants passing through Mexico is the “systematic and generalized” practice of kidnapping by organized crime groups. Gangs can sometimes hold migrants for months in the attempt to extort their families or force them to join their ranks, subjecting them to torture and rape. Migrants rights group estimate that up to 20,000 migrants are kidnapped each year.
Gangs are also instrumental in smuggling undocumented migrants into the United States. Federal agents in Texas last month dismantled a Zetas-run smuggling ring said to have brought 200 migrants into the US each month at a cost of $2,500 each, highlighting how important an earner the practice can be. Many of the migrants came from Central and South America.