The pressure President Trump has put on the Mexican government is reportedly causing Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to crack down on immigration in his country and stop migrants from traveling north and into the United States.
The Mexican government’s change in how they handle migrants looking to enter the U.S. has changed drastically, from allowing and encouraging, to preventing altogether.
USA Today reports, “the Mexican government has abruptly changed its approach to the rising number of migrants passing through the country, no longer welcoming and assisting them, but instead arresting, detaining and turning back members of their caravans.”
Mexico experts say the hastily-arranged response is the result of López Obrador trying to establish his new government while juggling two competing forces: His campaign promise to regularize migration through his country in a compassionate way and the constant threats from President Donald Trump to seal the border and sanction Mexico.
“The Mexican government is between a rock and a hard place here,” said Rachel Schmidtke, a program analyst for the Mexico Institute at the Washington-based, non-partisan Wilson Center. “It’s a very delicate balance that they’re striking where they’re trying to do more a pragmatic immigration management strategy, but at the same time not wanting to have conflicts with their neighbor to the north.”
President Trump has routinely sought Mexico’s help in reducing immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border, from demanding they pay for the construction of a border wall to most recently challenging them to increase their efforts to stop illegal immigration.
According to the report, the Mexican government’s major crackdown was on full display in April when federal police officers arrested nearly 400 people in a migrant caravan. These arrests, alongside other efforts to stop and deter migrants from seeking entry into the U.S., help fulfill the demands Trump has put on them.
Here’s more from USA Today:
That harsh new reality for migrants in Mexico is a far cry from just a few months ago. Under Mexico’s previous president, Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico introduced a scheme known as the “Plan Frontera Sur” — the Southern Border Plan — that stopped migrants from riding the rails northward and sharply increased the detentions of Central Americans.
In January, the Mexican government had decided to end the humanitarian visa program, saying it had been “too successful” and was luring even more migrants from Central America.
Trump became obsessed with migrant caravans last fall, when a large group started marching north from Honduras just as the U.S. midterm elections were approaching.
He seized on that opportunity to rail against the caravan each day, issuing an escalating series of threats against Mexico and Central American governments if they didn’t stop the flow of people through their countries.
Ever since, Trump has threatened to seal off the entire southern border, vowed to cut off foreign aid to Mexico, and declared that he would halt ongoing negotiations for a new trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The fact that he followed through on another threat – announcing that he would cut off $450 million in foreign aid to Central American governments – made the president’s threats against Mexico more likely to be believed.