Mexico steps up efforts to stop migrants heading to the United States

Mexican authorities redoubled their efforts this weekend to dissuade migrants from crossing Mexico to the United States by detaining 100 people in the south of the country and stationing National Guards along the Rio Grande in the south.

In Arriaga, a city in the state of Chiapas, a hundred migrants were taken into custody in buses on Sunday, while a local television reported that 146 others were arrested in a private house in the central state of Queretaro. More than 100 others were also taken from a hotel in the state of Veracru.

Under pressure from the United States, the Mexican government deployed some 6,000 National Guard agents, its new militarized police force, along its southern and northern borders this month.

In Ciudad Juárez , just south of El Paso, Texas, National Guards fired migrants trying to cross the border over the weekend. The guards patrolled along the Rio Grande with assault rifles.

The function of these brigades is to try to educate and prevent people who are at risk [to cross], said Luis Mario Dena Torres, representative of the Governor of the State of Chihuahua in Ciudad Juárez.

Some Mexicans, however, worry about the situation.

The National Guard, in theory, should not repress those who want to cross to the United States , said Isabel Sanchez, coordinator of a group of Ciudad Juárez concerned about security and social justice.

Mistrust of migrants

However, the stricter enforcement of the immigration law finds support in Mexican public opinion.

They are human beings and they need help, but Mexico is barely able to employ Mexicans.

Rogelio Perez, an accountant from Arriaga

In a recent El Universal poll , more than half of Mexicans surveyed said authorities should not allow migrants to enter the country and those intercepted without a visa in Mexico should be expelled.

For their part, residents of Arriaga have expressed a mixture of concern for migrants, which they have become accustomed to welcoming, and relief, seeing that the authorities are seeking to control the flow of migrants.

As a resident, you sometimes have suspicion because with the little they have, they could try to rob us or do something to us, Rogelio Perez said .

Since January, Mexico has detained more than 74,000 migrants and expelled more than 53,000, according to the latest figures available.

These numbers are expected to increase when the data for June are released.

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