Hypocritical Mexican Immigration Policy
The Mexican government deports thousands of unaccompanied Central American children instead of offering them asylum and protection it has agreed to provide.
Everyone from the Pope to machista Vicente Fox has condemned Donald Trump for trying to make people understand that a country’s borders cannot be wide open for anyone to come in, if that country wants to remain sovereign.
The former Mexican president has even used vulgar language to contradict Trump’s idea to keep illegal immigrants from pouring into the United States without first being vetted. During a television interview, Fox said that Mexico was not going to pay for “that fucking wall”. In response to Fox’s statement, and to the amusement of everyone who heard him, Donald Trump said that the wall had just gotten 10 feet taller.
Given Mexico’s opposition to American changing its immigration policy, building a wall and demanding new trade conditions with its southern neighbor, one would think that Mexico is a safe haven for illegal immigrants who get to its territory from Central America, South America or Africa.
Unfortunately, reality shows that Mexico is one of those countries where speaking and doing are two very different things.
Although Mexico possesses the legal framework to accommodate children who arrive to its southern border alone, the Mexican government systematically returns thousands of children back to their countries of origin, says Human Rights Watch.
About half of all migrant children who intend to cross Mexico’s southern as they flee violence from Central America, and who as such are candidates for a humanitarian visa to remain in the country, are instead sent back to their countries of origin.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Government only grants humanitarian visas to less than 1% of those entering the country. This fact, denounces the international human rights organization, is a clear example of how the Mexican government uses double speak and applies one standard to itself while demanding that other governments, such as the US, give protection and support to millions of illegal immigrants.
In a recently published report, HRW explains that Mexico has signed all international mechanisms for assisting migrant children, in addition to the law on child protection and yet, its standard procedure is deporting them without investigating their situation and without informing them about the possibility to apply for a humanitarian visa.
“Children and adolescents are not informed about their rights, or worse, immigration agents recommend that they better not apply,” said Michael Garcia, legal adviser to the organization and author of the report.
In doing so, Garcia says, the agents become a filter that prevents children from accessing a humanitarian visa, which coupled with the long periods they spend in detention centers, scares them and makes them abandon their attempt to stay in the country.
The phenomenon of children migrating alone has grown dramatically over the past four years. According to HRW figures, in 2012 alone 5,956 children were deported and by 2015 the figure had reached 28,017.
Many of them leave their countries looking for a better economic and social situation, but according to a 2014 United Nations study, up to 48% of unaccompanied children interviewed in Mexico claimed to be fleeing violence in their countries.
In Central America, most of the violence stems from criminal groups that are known for abusing minors and recruiting them, against their will, to become sexual slaves.
International organizations consider that this factor should be sufficient to give children international protection and the legal framework in Mexico permits it, but almost none of those unaccompanied children receives it.
In 2015, Mexico arrested 18,650 children and only 128 submitted formal applications for asylum while only 39 of them reached refugee status.
In the meantime, the number of juveniles arrested for entering without documents to the US fell 22% in 2015, but at the same time, Mexico arrested 70% more. HRW says this fact suggests that Mexico is making the arrests and deportations that the United States used to carry out.
In July 2014, US President Barack Obama met with the presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua to address this crisis, and recognized that the southern Mexican border needed to strengthen security controls in that area.
Last December, the Mexican Foreign Minister, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, said in Washington that her country is “doing its part” to reduce the flow of Central American migrant minors traveling unaccompanied to the United States.
According to the HRW report, the result of these efforts has been a stop in the flow of migrants due to the transfer of responsibility for immigration control to the Mexican authorities.
Michael Garcia said Tuesday in a meeting with the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees, that it is necessary to define a protocol to improve the situation of children in detention centers of the National Institute of Migration (INM). However, the adviser for HRW regretted that the proposed solutions are more disconnected theories than practices that will help migrant children. Garcia has also requested meetings with the INM but so far he has received no response.