As John discussed last week, the most recent caravan of migrants attempting to pass from Guatemala through Mexico to the United States was met with a most unexpected and disappointing welcome. Their initial efforts to cross a bridge were totally blocked. Then, when a large number of them tried to wade across the river, they were met with teargas and armed troops who stopped them again. Some accepted invitations to apply for asylum and remain in southern Mexico, but most were loaded onto buses and shipped back to their countries of origin.
This has immigration activists up in arms, with some declaring that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (better known as AMLO) is taking the place of “Trump’s border wall” and shutting down the caravan corridor. But AMLO doesn’t show any signs of relenting at this point. (The Independent)
Mexican National Guard troops this week blocked a caravan of migrants seeking to breach the country’s border with Guatemala – firing tear gas while dressed in full riot gear.
Now critics say the government’s actions have created virtual border wall on the country’s southern border with Guatemala. Hundreds of those detained were put on planes and buses back to Honduras, where the majority began their journey.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had campaigned on a pledge to welcome migrants, but his government’s actions have shifted over the past year.
Some of these same critics have taken to the pages of Mexico’s newspapers to accuse AMLO of “caving” to pressure from the Trump administration, including threats of tariffs on imported Mexican goods. His actions, they say, have created “a de facto wall” on Mexico’s southern border.
I don’t want to have to be the one to point this out, but Mexico was always supposed to be guarding their own borders. Having a “de facto wall” isn’t as good as an actual wall, but the National Guard is obviously doing a massively better job of shutting down this corridor than they used to. Pining for a return to the times when thousands of Central American migrants could blithely stroll across the border and all the way up through the country is self-defeating because that was not normal. That’s not how things are supposed to work.
Also, AMLO is not going back on his campaign pledge to welcome migrants. He’s still welcoming the ones who attempt to emigrate to Mexico legally. What he’s rejecting is the massive amount of illegal immigration that was the status quo under his predecessors. The fact that he’s obviously doing this because of the new trade deal he arranged with President Trump and his approval of the new Remain in Mexico policy are just details.
Mexico is benefitting from all of this nearly as much as the United States. They have a new trade deal that generates revenue and provides jobs as Mexican exports increase. This actually provides more opportunities for refugees from Honduras and Guatemala to find good jobs and start new lives in Mexico. Meanwhile, arrests of illegal aliens at our southern border continues to drop. Tourism across the border for legal travelers continues to benefit both nations.
What AMLO’s critics are actually complaining about is that the laws are being enforced. And the stronger the Mexican government is and the more opportunities exist for its citizens, the weaker the position of the drug cartels becomes. This could be the beginning of a much more promising era for Mexico, both domestically and in terms of their relationship with the United States. Perhaps these people should stop complaining and work on being part of the solution instead of part of the problem.