Mexico Moves 6,000 Troops to Guatemala Border To Block Illegal Migrants
The deployment comes following Trump's threats of tariff hikes
Mexico has drafted 6,000 troops to the routes for migrants in southern Mexico over the weekend as they step up on their agreement with President Donald Trump to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.
Immigration enforcement officials checked identifications, pulled migrants off public transport, and intercepted four trucks packed with nearly 800 illegals.
According to The National Migration Institute, 1,000 immigration agents had been deployed in the north and south of Mexico.
The deployment comes following Trump's threats of tariff hikes until the country stops the flood of illegal immigrants from pouring across the border into the United States.
Mexico is set to position 6,000 National Guard troops by Tuesday to its southern border with Guatemala.
According to ABC News: The Associated Press saw nearly ten armed soldiers at a checkpoint near Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, in Chiapas state, wearing black armbands to indicate they are part of the National Guard.
The soldiers stopped vehicles while immigration officials checked identification and removed passengers without documents.
At another checkpoint just north of Comitán in Chiapas, more than a dozen apparent National Guardsmen drove around backroads in the rain and dark, looking for migrants and human smugglers.
In the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, the National Migration Institute said 791 people were taken Saturday to a migration facility and that drivers of the tractor-trailer trucks transporting them were arrested.
Migrants are routinely transported through Mexico in packed semis, sometimes in dangerous conditions without food or water or sufficient fresh air.
Government video showed officials breaking the lock on the door of one cargo truck and helping migrants out.
The institute described the detentions and arrests in Veracruz as part of a strategy implemented by its new commissioner, Francisco Garduño.
The former prisons director assumed the post-Friday, taking over for a sociologist and academic.
Armed police wearing National Guard armbands were also patrolling Sunday along the Suchiate River that separates Mexico from Guatemala.
In prior days, migrants were seen being ferried across the river by raft without interference from immigration or other Mexican officials.
Outside Comitán on Sunday, some roadblocks and checkpoints were handled by multiple soldiers and police identifying as National Guard.
At one checkpoint, immigration agent José Ángel Ramírez welcomed the help of the National Guard.
"We don't have a way to stop so many, and the traffickers pass everywhere," said Ramírez, who was accompanied by a dozen National Guard officers.
Nearby, five Hondurans found traveling without papers were sitting in a holding cell.
One of the Hondurans, a farmer named Armando who was traveling with a daughter and nephew, broke into tears while saying he'd be killed if returned to his country.
After several hours, the Hondurans were transported to a Mexican detention center for migrants.
The Mexican National Guard is a new security force created by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office Dec. 1.
The security force is still taking shape and was initially established to stem endemic violence.
Last year saw the highest number of murders in at least 20 years in Mexico.
Mexican soldiers have long been authorized to search vehicles for drugs or weapons, explained one of the newly minted National Guard officers, who declined to give his name.
Now, he said, they can detain drivers or others suspected of helping the undocumented move through Mexico.
Comitán locals say that trucks often bypass area checkpoints at night.
"We don't know what they have inside," said immigration agent Julio Velasco. Mexican officials have set up additional roadblocks in recent days to cover more territory.
Luis Guillermo Lechuga, who sells vests near one of the checkpoints, was skeptical that the increased security presence would reduce the flow of migrants through Comitán and surrounding areas.
"Everything will be the same," said Lechuga, who expressed a mixture of sympathy and annoyance with the travelers.
"Nobody leaves their country without problems."