On immigration. We call for a change in the policies that have militarized the border and criminalized immigrants. These policies have generated a humanitarian crisis driven by unprecedented levels of deportations and incarceration of migrants. In addition, these policies have also inflicted immeasurable environmental damage. We call for protecting the dignity of every human being, including immigrant populations that have been displaced by violence who are fleeing to the US seeking safe haven and a better life.
Mexico is a country of origin, transit, destination and return of migrants. Its geopolitical position regarding the U.S. is one of the factors that influence its migration policy. Migrants have become one of the most affected groups by violence. With the militarization of the border, we saw the crossroads between migrants and organized crime. These violations occur, sometimes in collusion with various agents and officials in Mexico. Unofficial figures estimate the migratory flow of 400 thousand people annually. Each year, up to 20,000 migrants, most of Central America, are kidnapped, some tortured, raped or even killed, by organized crime groups in Mexico. Too often these crimes are aided or supported by immigration officials and corrupt Mexican security agents.
There are an estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Most are Mexicans (6.8 million), followed by Salvadorans (660,000 people). On the U.S. side of the border, non-governmental groups have documented thousands of cases of sanctioned abuse and mistreatment of migrants in the custody of U.S. authorities. In this case, accountability is urgently needed, both criminally and administratively, of public officials in both governments, which are involved in one way or another in the abuse of migrants. Migrants are also facing U.S. deportation practices that cause unnecessary harm. Routinely, families are separated by policies that send people to federal prison for the “crime” of being in the U.S. without permission, or repatriated to cities hundreds of miles from where they were detained. Sometimes, these “lateral repatriations” send migrants to Mexican border cities, where they can become prey or be recruited by criminal groups that have control over the area.
Migration is not a threat. There is a marked reduction in migrant crossings. Although we cannot know how many migrants try to cross the border into the U.S. each year, we know how many are stopped by the Border Patrol. Since 2005, the number has fallen by 61%, levels that had not been seen since the presidency of Richard Nixon. Even when the total number of migrants has decreased, the amount of human remains found in the Arizona desert and vicinity remains terribly high. Moreover, the situation of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. is very alarming. They are subject to many injustices including labor abuses, fraud, human trafficking, modern slavery (sexual and labor), discrimination, violence and living conditions and poor work.
Likewise, although Mexico has suffered more than 60,000 murders related to organized crime since 2007, violence is not spilling the U.S. One reason has to do with the conduct of the Mexican drug trafficking organizations: they act to avoid incidents on the U.S. side of the border that could trigger the official closing of the ports of entry by which most drugs pass.
After a historic buildup of the U.S. security presence there, further increases in money, barriers and manpower are unnecessary. The threats that actually exist don’t justify them, and the side effects—among them a severe humanitarian toll on migrants—are mounting. It is urgent that Washington view the border security buildup as a past policy, not a direction for the present or future. The whirlwind security buildup can stop now. Instead, the U.S. and Mexican governments need to pause, reconsider, and take the steps needed to make the world’s busiest frontier more efficient, lawful, and humane for the rest of the 21st century.
SOURCES: Fabián Sánchez Matus, “Secuestro y extorsión a migrantes por parte del crimen organizado” en Los Derechos Humanos de las personas migrantes en México, estudios de caso para promover su respeto y defensa, México, CIDE, 2011. / Adam Isacson and Maureen Meyer. Beyond the Border Buildup Security and Migrants along the U.S.-Mexico Border. Executive Summary, WOLA, April 2012.
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