Mexico City, D.F. — Recently calculated data from Mexico’s National Immigration Institute shows a dramatic increase in the deportation of people from Central America.
The statistics show that during the first four months of 2015, there has been a 79 percent increase in the deportation of illegal people entering Mexico over the same period last year. The sharp spike in deportation cases stems from a US-driven effort to slow the flow of migrants reaching the American border via the Southern Border Plan (Plan Frontera Sur) .
According to the government statistics, 51,565 immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador were deported between January and April of this year, up from 28,736 during the same time in 2014. Deportation of Guatemalans rose 124%, followed by Salvadorans at 79% and Hondurans at 40%.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has expressed “concern over stepped-up actions reportedly being taken against migrant persons” that was put in place last year with the Southern Border Plan, under pressure from the United States.
Last year, over 46,000 unaccompanied minors made their way into the US from Central America, causing the US government to turn to the Mexican government to try and halt the flow.
Mexico responded by sending 5,000 federal police to the Guatemalan border state of Chiapas. As part of the initiative, additional border checkpoints were opened and raids on migrants increased as authorities focus on preventing migrants from getting on the northbound freight train referred to as “the Beast”.
However, migrant activist Rubén Figueroa in Tenosique, a town in Mexico’s state of Tabasco, said police are waging a violent campaign against migrants.
“Masked officers with rifles run operations on the train to keep (migrants) off and to remove migrants from the train,” Figueroa said. “They set up checkpoints on the highways, above all in the southern states of Tabasco, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz. They enter hotels in the areas where migrants take shelter waiting for rides.”
Adam Isacson, a security expert and head of regional security at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights organization, said in a statement that the wave of immigration seen from Central America in 2014 continues.
“Enormous numbers of Central Americans are still fleeing, but most of them are now getting caught in Mexico instead of the United States,” he said.
“Every day there are more people who walk, every time more exposed,” he said. “Women with children walk hundreds of kilometers at night in big groups.”
Mexican interior figures revealed that in 2014, more than 24,000 women were deported from Mexico, double the number from 2013. The rise in child detentions was even sharper, with an increase of 230 percent to just over 23,000.
Many were captured during security operations targeting train and bus routes commonly used by Central American migrants as part of the new Southern Border Plan strategy. The plan was launched last summer after Barack Obama declared the unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied children and families seeking refuge at the US border.
The Southern Border Plan prevented 9,661 Honduran and 7,973 Guatemalan children from reaching the US border. Mexican authorities also apprehended nearly 11,000 unaccompanied children, of which 1,853 were aged 11 or younger.
Isacson explains, “Migration is not a political issue in Mexico. They would not have grabbed on to it without increasingly loud complaints and prodding from the US to do something about it. Frontera Sur is only about catching migrants, and sending them back before they make it to the US.”
But the Mexican government has denied any pressure from the US government, saying it is trying to regain control of its border and protect migrants from organized crime groups.