Deportations of Central Americans from Mexico are on the rise, with a 79 percent increase in deportations of migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras in the first four months of 2015, compared to the same period last year.
According to government statistics, Mexico's detention of migrants increased by 46 percent between 2013 to 2014 from 86,929 to 127,149 detentions. With increased southern border control and more frequent round-ups of undocumented migrants, Mexico's 2015 deportation level is already on track to surpass the past two years.
The Inter-American Human Rights Commission has expressed concern over the “stepped-up actions reportedly being taken against migrant persons and those who defend their rights in Mexico,” noting that migrants and human rights defenders “continue to be targets of attacks in Mexico.”
The overall 79 percent increase in deportations of migrants from Central America's northern triangle breaks down to a 124 percent spike for Guatemalans, 79 percent for Salvadorans, and 40 percent for Hondurans.
In 2014, over 46,000 unaccompanied child migrants crossed the U.S. border, many fleeing poverty and violence in Central America. Public scrutiny over the inhumane treatment of tens of thousands of migrant mothers and children in packed U.S. detention centers as the knee-jerk response to the influx of migrants has led the U.S. to push Mexico to lock down its borders.
Amid the child migrant crisis, Mexico launched its Southern Border Plan in July 2014 to crackdown on undocumented Central American migrants crossing the historically porous southern border of the country en route to the U.S. The program includes an increased number of formal border checkpoints, heightened border patrols and rail security, targeting human smuggling networks, and other measures.
The advocacy organization Washington Office on Latin America has also raised humanitarian concerns over Mexico taking on immigration enforcement on behalf of the U.S.
“The Obama administration has found a way to hide the so-called crisis of Central American migrants at the border, but at what cost?” said WOLA Senior Associate for Mexico and Migrant Rights Maureen Meyer. “We are asking Mexico to detain and deport migrants for us, and Mexico has clearly done that. But in the process tens of thousands of vulnerable children and families are getting sent back into harm’s way without getting the chance to seek protection or refugee status.”
Deportations have also hit record levels under the Obama administration, despite campaigning on promises of immigration reform.
The proposed 2016 U.S. budget includes US$142 million for Mexico, including funds earmarked for tightening Mexico's southern border control to curb Central American migration. The US$1 billion dollar Alliance for Prosperity plan focused on Central America's northern triangle has also been touted as a strategy to tackle skyrocketing levels of child migration from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
Alarmed by the human rights abuses and intimidation against migrants and defenders of migrants' rights, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission has urged for reform, saying, “Mexico must immediately and urgently adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the rights to life, physical integrity, and safety of migrants in transit through Mexico, as well as the rights of migrants’ human rights defenders.”