While the President is overseas honoring D-Day, the cable news talking heads back home have been busy critiquing his recently announced plan to impose an increasing series of tariffs on Mexico unless that nation stops the flood of migrants passing through their country toward the United States. The plan has been described in the press with a variety of terms ranging from reckless to impossible. After all, even if Mexico was willing to consider such a deal, how could they possibly stop the human tide from flowing across their own southern border?
Well, the tariffs must have gotten their attention. I don’t know if they can shut down their border entirely, but as of this morning, they seem to be giving it the good old college try. (Reuters)
Mexican soldiers, armed police and migration officials blocked hundreds of migrants after they crossed the border from Guatemala in a caravan into southern Mexico on Wednesday, and detained dozens of them, a witness from a migrant aid group and an official said.
The Mexican response in the border town of Metapa, which included dozens of soldiers, marked a toughening of the government’s efforts to curb the flow of mainly Central American migrants, said Salva Cruz, a coordinator with Fray Matias de Cordova.
“That many sailors and military police, yes, it’s new,” Cruz said, by WhatsApp, from Metapa, in the southern border state of Chiapas, where the vast majority of migrants cross into Mexico.
To call this a “shift in policy” is something of an understatement. Federal police, members of the military and other enforcement officials are staging along some common crossing points from Guatemala turning people back unless their documentation is in order. This is a definite switch from their recent policy of attempting to process everyone seeking to make asylum claims and allowing other groups to travel north.
But that’s not all that’s going on by a long shot. An official with the National Migration Institute in Mexico City said that migrants already in the country were now being approached and being asked to show their citizenship status. Up to 400 were detained yesterday with many presumably being scheduled for deportation back to their home countries.
In a perhaps even more stunning move, yesterday afternoon saw the detention of Irineo Mujica, the director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a migrant rights group that has been coordinating with American groups in San Francisco to organize and assist the caravans. Another migrant rights activist named Cristobal Sanchez was also detained.
The new Mexican president has signaled on several occasions that he was ready to play ball with Donald Trump if it was to the mutual benefit of our nations. I haven’t seen any official statement from AMLO yet, but this certainly sounds like he’s willing to bring down the hammer in the interest of avoiding those tariffs. The Vice President is currently in discussions with Mexican officials, so we’ll see if these most recent changes move the ball.