Mexico’s plan to deter illegal immigrants from Central America from crossing its southern border has been effective, as apprehension numbers have plummeted. However, abuse complaints—including violent attacks and extortion—against Mexican immigration officials have skyrocketed.
According to data obtained by Reuters news service, complaints have increased by 40 percent since Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s plan, known as Plan Frontera Sur, to make Mexico’s southern border “safe for Mexicans and migrants alike” was launched in July 2014.
In the past three years, a major shift in illegal immigration heading towards the US has occurred, with Central Americans overtaking Mexicans in apprehensions along the southwest border. As a result of the “humanitarian crisis” and border surge in the summer of 2014, the US government has pressured the Mexican government to crack down on illegal immigrants entering Mexico from the south, most of which are heading towards Texas. Mexican immigration authorities have long had a reputation for extortion and abuse—and sometimes outright violence. If the complaints are legitimate, then it seems la migra, as Mexican immigration enforcement is known, has taken Peña Nieto’s mandate more seriously than he intended.
According to Reuters, In the year through June 2015, Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) logged 567 complaints of abuse by officials at the National Migration Institute (INM), up by 39 percent from the previous 12-month period. Activists say the vast majority of abuses go unreported but that anecdotal evidence supports the increase shown by official data.
“Plan Frontera Sur has turned the border region into a war zone,” said Alberto Donis, managing director of the Hermanos en el Camino shelter, near the migrant stopping-point of Ixtepec in Oaxaca state. “Talk of human rights is a lie. Almost all of the migrants who arrive here have been abused by authorities.”
In defense of Mexican government efforts, INM spokeswoman Sofia Vega declined to comment on the CNDH findings but said Plan Frontera Sur “has provided countless benefits to people of different nationalities.”
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.