No Mexican president has detained and deported as many migrants in a year as AMLO


Neither Fox, nor Calderón, nor Peña: AMLO’s government breaks the record of immigration detention and deportation.

It’s official: no government in Mexico has detained as many migrants in a year as that of President López Obrador. 

According to data from the Segob Immigration Policy Unit, at the last cut in October 2021, there were 228,115 people detained without documents; the highest figure for a year in Mexico since two decades ago, in 2002, these statistics began to be kept. 

The López Obrador administration surpassed the record held by the Peña Nieto government with 198,000 migrants detained in 2015 when the so-called Southern Border Plan was launched. In other words, neither with Peña, nor Felipe Calderón nor with Vicente Fox, have so many migrants been detained in a year as now. 

And this, in the absence of knowing the data for November and December of this year, since, taking into account that in the last three months the average captures was 37 thousand migrants per month, the total figure for 2021 could even touch the barrier of 300 thousand captures. Something unprecedented. 

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It should be noted that, until June of this year, the average number of arrests was less than half that of now: 15,700 per month. The ‘boom’ began that month, coinciding precisely with the visit to the country of the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, who on June 8 met with President López Obrador and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard to sign agreement cooperation in migration matters that promises to promote economic and labor opportunities in Central America; the main region expelling people for economic or insecurity reasons.  

After the agreement was signed, catches in Mexico progressively increased until skyrocketing: 22% more in July; 71% more in August; 127% more in September, which is the month with the historical record; and 91% in October, the second record month with almost 36 thousand migrants captured.

This increase in arrests in Mexico also occurs alongside the increase in arrests on the other side of the northern border, in the United States, where the Joe Biden administration has detained more than 1 million from October 2020 to September of this year. 659 thousand people, also the highest number registered in that country since 2000.

It should be remembered that civil organizations such as the Washington Office for Latin American Affairs (WOLA) explained that this increase in arrests on both sides of the border may be motivated by the effects of the pandemic throughout Latin America and the economic and political crisis that are experienced in certain countries of the continent that expel migrants, and that has unleashed greater human mobility.

“This increase in mobility may respond to great human despair motivated, in particular, by the economic crisis that unleashed the pandemic, coupled with the fact that in many other countries there are also security crises and political crises, such as in Nicaragua, Venezuela or Haiti, “said Maureen Meyer, migration expert and vice president for programs at Wola.

“In other words, now there are historical levels of migrants from other countries (in addition to Mexicans and Central Americans), which had not been seen with this intensity before, nor had a global pandemic been seen, which, together with the political and security crises, came to complicate everything much more, “said Meyer, who, however, also pointed out that in the current US government, as in its Mexican counterpart,” the detention and deportation of people is being prioritized over access to legal migration. , or to asylum ”, which would also explain the increase in migratory pressure and in captures, through the use, even, of military-style bodies such as the National Guard.

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Arrests soar on the northern border 

In addition, official statistics show several striking points in relation to the dynamics of arrests of the National Institute of Migration (INM) in previous years. 

Most of the captures of migrants continue to be made in the states of the southern Mexican border with Central America: up to 103,432, 45% of the total. 

However, the ‘boom’ on the northern border is striking: 69,047 arrests until October; an increase of 131% compared to 2019, the year before the pandemic when statistics show an atypical decrease due to the INM being instructed to avoid detaining people at immigration stations due to the risks of contagion from Covid 19.

In fact, while in 2019 only 18% of the arrests made by the INM occurred in the states on the border with the United States, now the percentage has climbed to over 30%.

In states like Sonora, for example, it went from 3 thousand 487 arrests in 2019, to 10 thousand 633; an increase of 205%. 

In Tamaulipas, the increase was 120%. 

In Nuevo León, 85%. 

And in Coahuila, 65%. 

The northern municipalities with the most arrests are Ciudad Juárez, in Chihuahua, with 6,524 cases; Piedras Negras, Coahuila, with 5 thousand 734; and Tijuana, with 3,119. 

On the other hand, on the southern border, states such as Chiapas, the largest migration gateway that comes mainly from the Northern Triangle of Central America, registered a 5% decrease, although with more than 67 thousand arrests it is still the entity with the most captures. due to its proximity to Guatemala. 

Detenciones de migrantes

Palenque, Chiapas, with almost 10,000 arrests, is the southern municipality with the most captures; Suchiate follows closely, with 8,834. 

Also noteworthy is the increase in catches in the central and El Bajío states of the country, where entities such as Tlaxcala experienced increases of up to 1,345% (from 593 in 2019 to 8,569 in 2021); While in San Luis Potosí the shot was 162% (from 2,784 in 2019 it went to 7,305). 

Even in states that are not usually a migrant route, arrests also multiplied. This is the case of Guerrero, which went from just 45 arrests in 2019 to 353 in 2021; an increase of 684%.  

These data show that the actions to detain migrants, with the cooperation of the Mexican Army, the National Guard, and the Secretary of the Navy, which in the third López Obrador government report reported that they participated in operations with the INM to ‘rescue’ more than 104 thousand migrants – are not limited only to the southern border, the main gateway, but have already spread to much of the country. In fact, with the exception of 8 entities, among which there are states that are not usually a migrant route, such as Michoacán or Colima, in most of the Republic the arrests of people without documents increased, with increases in many cases above 100 and up to 200%.

Regarding the nationalities of detained migrants, there are no major changes, although with a nuance. 

In 2021, people of Central American nationality continue to be the vast majority: 84.5%. 

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Within this group, Hondurans (97 thousand detained) and Guatemalans (64 thousand) were the most detained for passing through Mexico without documents. 

Where a slight change can be seen is in the arrests of people of African or Asian nationality: in this year, only 1% of those arrested are African or Asian, while in 2019 the percentage was 7%. 

In contrast, this year the arrests of people from the Caribbean islands increased, especially Cuba and Haiti: 10% were from those countries, while in 2019 the percentage was 6%. 

On the other hand, Segob data show that until October of this year 48,707 migrant minors have been detained, 3% less than in 2019.

Of those nearly 49,000 minors, 1,124 traveled alone; a figure very far from the 3 thousand 733 who were arrested between January and October 2019. 

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They ask not to give more attributions to the INM

Given this context of detentions of undocumented migrants on the rise, civil organizations such as the Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI) asked the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation not to extend the powers to the INM to carry out immigration reviews to the entire Mexican population in the country.  

This petition arises after Minister Ana María Ríos Farjat, former head of the SAT in the López Obrador administration, presented the draft ruling AR275 / 2019 -whose discussion was scheduled for yesterday Wednesday and which was postponed with a date yet to be determined-, which plans to extend the powers of the INM to carry out reviews throughout the national territory, and not only at international borders. 

“It is a worrying proposal since it grants powers of review to the INM that are not provided for in the Migration Law and violates Article 11 of the Mexican Constitution,” said IMUMI. 

“The approval of the project,” he added, “would imply a setback in human rights, since it presumes that all people in Mexico are foreigners and consequently we must prove our nationality to INM agents, either through identification or through an interview”.  

The civil organization considered that this measure “would add to the discriminatory actions that are carried out during immigration reviews, where INM agents, according to their perception, validate who is a Mexican person and who is not.” “What would have as a consequence the arbitrary detention of the Mexican population that they consider is not Mexican.” 

It should be remembered that, since 2014, the National Human Rights Commission issued various recommendations against the detention of Mexican persons by INM agents. 

The most emblematic case was the arrest of four Tzeltal indigenous people, two men, and two women, who in September 2015 were detained in Querétaro during an immigration review, after immigration agents considered that they “did not look, Mexican.” They were taken to the Queretaro immigration station and after a week in detention, “being harassed and tortured to sign documents where they accepted to be Guatemalan nationals,” they were finally released after the intervention of IMUMI and the Legal Clinic of the University Program for Human Rights. of the UNAM.


Mexico Daily Post