Jorge Ramos has an opinion piece in the NY Times today in which he argues that Mexico’s president Obrador is making a terrible mistake by, essentially, becoming Trump’s border wall:
Mexico is now the wall. President Trump got his wish.
The heart-wrenching images documenting a recent confrontation in the state of Chiapas, near the border with Guatemala, are evidence of this. Dozens of Mexican National Guard troops equipped with helmets, batons and transparent shields coalesced on the highway connecting the Mexican cities of Ciudad Hidalgo and Tapachula to stop a caravan of migrants heading to the United States from Central America.
The guardsmen used pepper spray on the caravan, which as of mid-January included about 4,000 people, many of them women and children. In the end, hundreds were detained, sent back to Guatemala or deported to Honduras. A spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the actions of the National Guard, saying that the use of force to stop and disperse immigrants should be avoided.
I wrote about the confrontation on Mexico’s southern border as it was happening. What Ramos doesn’t tell readers is that Mexico closed the bridge the caravan attempted to cross and, when that failed, hundreds of migrants crossed the river and attempted to enter Mexico illegally. Because the Mexican national guard was waiting on the other side of the river, the migrants began throwing stones and bottles at them. That’s why the guardsmen were wearing helmets and carrying riot shields.
Some members of the caravan regrouped, moved downriver before the sun rose, and crossed the border illegally where there were no guardsmen to stop them. They were allowed to walk a few miles north and eventually stopped by the national guard. As I pointed out at the time, the migrants tried to push through the guard’s lines and when that failed, they were rounded up and taken to a detention center. Most were deported within a few days.
But as far as Ramos is concerned, Mexico should simply allow these migrants to pass through as if the borders of Mexico didn’t exist:
What should Mexico be doing with migrants from Central America? Just let them go through and protect them as they do so, instead of repressing them. They are fleeing extreme poverty and gang violence. Their only hope is to get to the United States. The Trump administration, not the López Obrador administration, should be receiving them and deciding whether they should be granted political asylum.
Ramos is an intelligent guy. He knows that most of the Central American migrants he’s talking about are economic migrants (he even admits as much) who are not eligible for asylum in the United States. In the past, they would claim asylum and then be released in the US, many never to be seen again. That’s not asylum it’s gaming the system.
If Mexico goes back to letting these people pass through unhindered, that means the US border goes back to the chaos of last spring and summer when the entire border system was overwhelmed by the number of daily arrivals. You may recall Democrats were screaming about people being held in bad conditions in overcrowded “concentration camps.” Why would anyone in the US want a return to that?
Instead, we’ve had eight straight months of declining border apprehensions. If this keeps up, our immigration courts may eventually catch up with the backlog that often stretches more than a year to hear asylum cases. Again, that’s a good thing and much better than the chaos at the border that following Ramos’ advice would soon create.