One day after US and Mexican negotiators failed to reach a deal to prevent punitive US tariffs from going into effect over border security, Mexican soldiers, armed police and migration officials blocked hundreds of migrants after they crossed into Mexico from Guatemala in a caravan on Wednesday.
According to Reuters, the response from Mexico marks a major step in compliance with President Trump’s demands that the country halt the flow of illegal immigration, primarily from Central America, in order to avoid 5% tariffs which are set to begin on Monday. According to the report, and INM officials told Reuters that migrants were being asked to show papers to show their status in Mexico.
The operation in Chiapas coincided with a meeting of Mexican and U.S. officials at the White House on Wednesday to thrash out a deal that would avoid blanket tariffs on Mexico threatened by U.S. President Donald Trump last week. –Reuters
….talks with Mexico will resume tomorrow with the understanding that, if no agreement is reached, Tariffs at the 5% level will begin on Monday, with monthly increases as per schedule. The higher the Tariffs go, the higher the number of companies that will move back to the USA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2019
“That many sailors and military police, yes, it’s new” – said Salva Cruz, a coordinator with Fray Matias de Cordova located in the southern border town of Metapa in the state of Chiapas, where most of the Central Americans have been crossing into Mexico.
Migration officials detained 350 to 400 people, the official said, noting that federal police and agents from the National Guard were present. Mexico’s government recently created a militarized police force called the National Guard made up of soldiers and federal police.
Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) said in a statement that a group of about 300 people entered Mexico by a border bridge Wednesday morning, and another 120 people joined the group as they walked to the city of Tapachula.
The migrants later agreed to be taken by bus to a migration office to be processed, the INM said. –Reuters
In May, US border patrol officers arrested over 132,000 people crossing into the country from Mexico, which is 1/3 more than in April, and the highest monthly figure since 2006 in what US officials have repeatedly said are “crisis” levels.
Meanwhile, Mexico is also cracking down on groups which help to facilitate illegal migration.
On Wednesday afternoon in Mexico City, police detained Irineo Mujica, director of the U.S.-Mexico migrant aid group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, and Cristobal Sanchez, a migrant rights activist, according to Alex Mensing, a coordinator with the group.
Pueblo Sin Fronteras has for several years guided annual caravans through Mexico, seeking to protect migrants and to advocate for their rights along a 2,000-mile trail ridden with criminals and corrupt officials who prey on lone travelers through kidnapping, extortion and other forms of assault. –Reuters
After Wednesday’s talks failed to result in headway, Fitch downgraded Mexico’s credit from BBB+ to BBB, while Moody’s lowered Mexico’s outlook from stable to negative.