Mexico’s National Guard, undocumented migrants and asylum seekers.

Thursday, August 11, 2022. New York City – On Thursday, July 7, 2022, Texas governor Greg Abbott authorized U.S. National Guard troops and Texas state police to arrest undocumented immigrants who cross from Mexico to Texas and return them to a port of entry at the US border and transfer them to Border Patrol.

On Friday, July 8, 2022, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s plan to use the National Guard of the United States of America to arrest immigrants was a political stunt.

“It is not his legal responsibility to make that decision, it is something that corresponds to the federal government in the United States. Even though we are respectful of the sovereignty of other countries, we see that there are anti-immigrant campaigns for electoral purposes. I consider it immoral, political,” AMLO said Friday at his morning press briefing.

López Obrador is not against the U.S. National Guard arresting undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, AMLO is against Texas governor Greg Abbott authorizing U.S. National Guard troops arresting migrants and refugees. According to AMLO, only the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, can authorize the U.S. National Guard to arrest immigrants.

Victor M. Manjarrez Jr., who worked for the U.S. Border Patrol for 22 years and retired as the Tucson Sector chief in 2011, said Abbott’s latest order is nothing out of the ordinary. He said local or state officers referring migrants to Border Patrol is a common practice along the Texas-Mexico border.”

As presidential candidate, Joe Biden said he was going to stop the deportations of undocumented migrants. A campaign promise that he has not fulfilled.

Deportations and expulsions of undocumented people from January 20, 2021 to March 17, 2022 are 2,348,803.

The organization United We Dream says, “Under the Biden-Harris Administration’s watch, apprehensions, deportations, and expulsions are taking place daily, despite a promise to stop deportations. This administration must prioritize the safety and healing of immigrant communities–and that means stopping deportations and expulsions. It also means guaranteeing the right to seek asylum to individuals who arrive at the southern U.S. border.”

Now, let’s talk about the Mexican National Guard.

On Sunday, June 30, 2019, president López Obrador formally inaugurated the National Guard at a ceremony in Mexico City.

On Monday, August 8, 2022, AMLO said that the National Guard has more than 110,000 troops in the field, “all trained, and distributed in the territory.” On the same day, August 8, president Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that he will issue a decree so that the National Guard depends on the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), a move that would change the security force’s essential nature from civilian to military. Many Mexicans do not agree with AMLO.

The Mexican National Guard, founded by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is assisting in the arrest of undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers who cross through Mexico, with the intention of reaching the United States of America and requesting asylum in this country.

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Mexico’s immigration enforcement relies on military

“Mexico’s immigration enforcement is increasingly militarized with the armed forces and National Guard now accounting for more migrant detentions than immigration agents, according to a report published Tuesday by six nongovernmental organizations.

The human rights and migrant advocacy groups, among them the Foundation for Justice and the Democratic State of Law, say that many of the detentions are also arbitrary, based on racial profiling and have led to abuses.

The armed forces are supposed to just be supporting immigration agents in their work, but the organizations found that they are now responsible for the majority of detentions.

Between June 2019 and December 2020, the armed forces and National Guard detained more than 152,000 migrants just at Mexico’s southern border, according to public information requests made by the Citizen Security Program at Iberoamericana University. During that same period the Interior ministry reported that 190,000 migrants had been presented to immigration authorities.

Mexico had already been moving toward increased reliance on the military, but it has accelerated under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, according to the report. Under pressure from then U.S. President Donald Trump in 2019, López Obrador deployed the newly created National Guard, a security force in theory civilian, but in reality under military control.”_AP / May 24, 2022. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

Mexican Soldiers and Immigration Agents Violently Detain Asylum Seekers

“Over the past week, Mexican immigration agents and National Guard members have been deployed to southern Mexico to break up a series of caravans of asylum seekers, including families and children, attempting to head north. Journalists and activists have followed the caravans and recorded many of their encounters with Mexican authorities. The scenes have been truly horrifying.

In one video, a Mexican immigration agent repeatedly kicks a migrant in the face while a second agent holds him down on the ground. In another video, National Guard members use their shields to knock over a Haitian man carrying a young child in his arms. “Kill me!” the man shouts, “Kill me with the child!” These examples are just a few among dozens.

According to reporters and activists traveling with the caravan, Mexican authorities have separated families, kicked and beaten migrants, broken into private homes in search of migrants, and assaulted journalists, activists, and representatives of Mexico’s human rights commission, who were attempting to document abuses. Both migrants and Mexican authorities have been injured in clashes.

Four caravans heading north since late August have been violently broken up by Mexican authorities. Unlike previous caravans, these formed not in Central America, but in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border. They have mostly consisted of Haitians and Hondurans who have already applied for asylum in Mexico and are waiting for a resolution of their cases.

Following pressure from the administration of US President Joe Biden to stop migrants from reaching the US border, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has pursued a “containment” policy, focused on keeping migrants in southern Mexico – mostly in Tapachula.

Human Rights Watch visited Tapachula in early August. We found thousands of asylum seekers without work, housing, or food, often sleeping on the streets. Although they are technically permitted to travel anywhere in the state of Chiapas until their cases are resolved, immigration checkpoints prevented them leaving Tapachula.

The recent violence is an extreme consequence of the disastrous heavy-handed immigration strategy Mexico is implementing at the behest of the United States. In the long term, both countries need a new rights-based approach to immigration. In the short term, Mexican authorities should ensure agents who committed these abuses are held accountable both through internal investigations and collaborating with judicial authorities.”_Human Rights Watch / September 8, 2021.

FOTO DE ARCHIVO Jueves 14 de enero de 2021. Presidente mexicano Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Foto por gobierno mexicano.
FOTO DE ARCHIVO Jueves 14 de enero de 2021. Presidente mexicano Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Foto por gobierno mexicano.

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Torture and sexual violence against migrants and asylum seekers

“Although ostensibly created to improve public security, the National Guard’s most visible role to date has been in stopping Central American migrants and asylum seekers from traveling up through Mexico to the United States.

In one incident, on 23 March, about 20 members of the National Guard entered the Siglo XXI migrant detention center in Tapachula, a small, steamy city in the southern state of Chiapas. Dozens of Central American migrants and asylum seekers had started protesting and asking to be released for fear of contracting COVID-19 while locked up there.

Flanked by Mexican immigration agents, the National Guard allegedly assaulted the migrants over several hours, stripping some of them naked and attacking them with their shields, fists, boots, hoses, fire extinguishers, pepper spray, Tasers, bats and knuckledusters, according to transcripts of interviews that the Fray Matías de Córdova Human Rights Center conducted with witnesses and shared with Amnesty International.

“They dragged them by their hands, by their feet, naked, with their faces disfigured and beaten, broken even… they threw them to the floor and started beating them with their fists and electrocuting them,” said one Honduran man. “I’ll never forget the screams of those people, as I watched them vomiting blood.”

Another man, who had fled his home in Guatemala after surviving an attempt on his life, said he almost suffocated from the pepper spray and felt scarred by the brutality he witnessed: “I’d never experienced anything of that magnitude, violence of that kind.”

Eventually the National Guard dragged a group of migrants onto a bus and drove them away, without revealing their destination. Salvador Lacruz from the Fray Matías Center says he eventually learned that they were transferred to other migrant detention centers in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco and Veracruz. Lacruz says the witnesses’ testimony is “evidence of torture and ill-treatment”, while other local human rights groups suggested the abuses fit the definition of enforced disappearance under international human rights law, given that authorities refused to reveal their location or destination during the events.

On another occasion, when the CMDPDH’s asylum coordinator Daniela Reyes visited the migrant detention center in Hermosillo, in the northern state of Sonora, last December she was struck not only by the severe overcrowding and oppressive heat, but also by the detainees’ reluctance to speak to her and her colleagues. Migrants at other detention centers had always been quick to approach them, Reyes told Amnesty International, but in Hermosillo she found they had been silenced by a culture of fear and intimidation.

As the migrants began to open up, they told her the National Guard had beaten, threatened and pointed their firearms at them during an inspection of the facility, in retaliation for starting protests or hunger strikes to denounce their living conditions. The violence was gendered, with 13 women, mostly from Cameroon and Central America, telling Reyes that members of the force sexually assaulted them. 

“We gathered their testimony on the first day, but when we came in the next day, they wouldn’t even look at us. They didn’t want to talk,” Reyes says. “Finally, one person told us that members of the National Guard had come in that morning and physically attacked the people that agents of the National Migration Institute had identified as having talked to us.”

The CMDPDH is also representing several migrants who say they suffered torture and threats of enforced disappearance at the hands of the National Guard in Mexico City’s Las Agujas migration detention center in October 2019 and February 2020.

Mexico’s Secretariat for Security and Citizen Protection did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations against the National Guard, which, combined with its militarized nature and the lack of transparency and civilian oversight, contrast with the president’s proclamations about the nature and significance of the force.

After 18 months in operation, there is little to suggest that the National Guard represents a change to Mexico’s security strategy or a new era of respect for human rights.”-Amnesty International / November 8, 2020.

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FILE PHOTO Military Civic Parade. September 16, 2021. Mexico City – Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and National Guard. Photo by Mexican government.
FILE PHOTO Military Civic Parade. September 16, 2021. Mexico City – Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and National Guard. Photo by Mexican government.

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