Something tells me that outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, having inked a new trade deal with the United States recently, is looking to score some points with President Trump. As John discussed yesterday, Trump was threatening to cut off all aid to Guatemala and El Salvador if they allow a massive caravan of migrants to pass through their countries unimpeded on their way to the United States. That may no longer be an issue as of this morning. Mexico has sent two planeloads of federal agents to their southern border with instructions to stop the caravan in its tracks. (USA Today)
The government of Mexico dispatched two 727 Boeing planes filled with federal police officers to its southern border with Guatemala on Wednesday to intercept a caravan of Central American migrants who are trying to reach the U.S. border.
The Interior and Foreign Relations ministries said in a joint statement that any migrant in the caravan without proper immigration papers would be arrested and “returned to their country of origin.” Those with proper documents or wishing to apply for asylum would be allowed to enter Mexico.
The caravan of migrants set out last week from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, which has long been one of the hemisphere’s most violent cities with a murder rate ranking among the highest in the world.
With Mexico adding roughly 300 more officers to their southern border forces, they may have a decent chance of stopping the approximately 4,000 migrants in the caravan. But that assumes that the entire group remains in one large collection. If they scatter across the border as some previous groups have done when they reach America, it’s going to be tougher to track them down. But will they even make it that far? Guatemala sent out a statement on Monday saying they would stop the caravan also, though they don’t seem to be able to do it.
If we assume that the caravan makes it to Mexico, their government will immediately inherit a new problem. They’re saying that any migrants without proper documentation will be arrested and returned to Honduras unless they wish to apply for asylum. I would imagine that the vast majority of them would choose to seek asylum rather than going all the way back home. And that means that the Mexican government will be in the same position the United States is whenever there’s a massive surge reaching our border. They’ll have to find a way to process thousands of asylum applications, no doubt leaving most of them stacked up at the border for weeks or months.
Much like the situation in Syria and Iraq, the only long-term solution to stopping this outflow of humanity doesn’t involve finding better ways of stopping them. It requires fixing conditions in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador so the streets are not run by gangs and criminal cartels. The crime levels in those three countries are off the charts and their governments seem unwilling or unable to contain the violence. Until that changes, everyone will be dealing with these migrant caravans.