What has significantly shifted is Mexico’s investment to secure its own southern borders with Belize and Guatemala. What were in previous years more-porous crossing sites have now been reinforced with stringent security.
Christopher Wilson, a senior associate at the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said on a recent trip he observed a far stronger presence of Mexican authorities and an increase in patrols along swaths of land that once were un-patrolled. Mexico also is in the process of erecting four new checkpoints further north in the interior to combat drug and human smuggling. And the Mexican government has cracked down on the number of migrants traveling on La Bestia—a dangerous network of cargo trains that immigrants have hopped aboard for years to travel through Mexico.
While the number of border crossings in the United States is down, the number of apprehensions in Mexico is rising. According to the National Migration Institute’s numbers, 120,000 Central Americans were detained in 2014. This year, there has already been a 200 percent increase over that same period of time last year. From January through February 2014, Mexico’s immigration branch recorded that it had caught 13,821 Central Americans. One year later, that number had nearly trippled as Mexican authorities stepped up patrols and detained 40,467 Central Americans.