Mexican officials are concerned the shift in border policies under President Joe Biden is fueling illegal immigration into the United States and creating opportunities for organized crime, Reuters reported, citing internal Mexican government assessments.
The documents seen by Reuters are based on testimony and Mexican intelligence and note gangs are modifying and expanding their methods of smuggling and gaining customers as the U.S. actions “incentivize migration.”
“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 a day after a virtual meeting with Biden 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.”
Among the policies most concerning to Mexican officials were the increased support for victims of gangs and violence, the reduction of the legalization process, and suspension of Trump-era accords that deported people to Central America.
One assessment also blamed recent Mexican policies such as offering COVID-19 vaccines as well as offering more services to illegal children migrants for encouraging the migration.
One Mexican official, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, said organized crime amended their operations “from the day Biden took office” and now were displaying “unprecedented” sophistication.
Among the change in tactics were briefing migrants on the latest U.S. immigration policies and rules, using technological means to evade law enforcement and camouflaging their smuggling operations as travel agencies, Reuters said the documents reported.
Additionally, migrants often travel in small groups instead of large caravans and increasingly use less traversed routes, the Mexican official said. Smugglers use Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and YouTube to update the migrants on checkpoints, freight train schedules, places to stay and how to adjust to immigration laws.
“Migrants have become a commodity,” the official told Reuters, suggesting they were on the same level of value as narcotics. “But if a packet of drugs is lost in the sea, it’s gone. If migrants are lost, it’s human beings we’re talking about.”
Detentions at the U.S.-Mexico border in February were the highest in 15 years for the month and reached levels not seen in any month since 2019.
Officials in Mexico’s security and foreign ministries did not reply to requests for reaction from Reuters, nor did the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.
Cesar Peniche, the lead prosecutor in the state of Chihuahua – a province with the longest stretch of U.S. border, said the higher numbers of migrants have resulted in gangs enticing them as drug couriers and kidnapping others.
He stressed both the United States and Mexico must adopt policies that are clear and do not encourage illegal immigration.
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