Mexico’s government is worried the new U.S. administration’s asylum policies are stoking illegal immigration and creating business for organized crime, according to officials and internal assessments seen by Reuters.
Ever since President Joe Biden won the White House vowing to undo the hardline approach of his predecessor Donald Trump, Mexico has both looked forward to an end to migration burdens imposed by Trump, and braced for a new influx of people.
Detentions on the U.S border have surged since Biden took office on Jan. 20. Mexico has urged Washington to help stem the flow by providing development aid to Central America, from where most migrants come, driven by a humanitarian crisis.
“They see him as the migrant president, and so many feel they’re going to reach the United States,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said of Biden the morning after a virtual meeting with his U.S. counterpart on March 1.
“We need to work together to regulate the flow, because this business can’t be tackled from one day to the next.”
Previously unreported details in the internal assessments, based on testimonies and intelligence gathering, state that gangs are diversifying methods of smuggling and winning clients as they eye U.S. measures that will “incentivize migration.”
Apprehensions on the U.S.-Mexico border in February hit levels unseen since mid-2019, and were the highest for that month in 15 years, data reported by Reuters showed.
Among U.S. steps Mexico worries are encouraging migration are improved support for victims of gangs and violence, streamlining of the legalization process, and suspension of Trump-era accords that deported people to Central America.
Recent Mexican policies are also encouraging migration, according to one assessment. It saw potential fillips in measures such as offering COVID-19 vaccines to migrants, as well as better protections for undocumented children.
One Mexican official familiar with migration developments, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said organized crime began changing its modus operandi “from the day Biden took office” and now exhibited “unprecedented” levels of sophistication.
That includes briefing clients on the latest immigration rules, using technology to outfox authorities, and disguising smuggling operations as travel agencies, assessments showed….[ ]