Newly-elected Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador is planning to create a new security force to police Mexico’s southern and northern borders. The goal is to stop Central and South American migrants from entering Mexico and, if they managed to cross the country, from entering the US.
Mexico oversees both legal and illegal migration through its National Migration Institute. Though in recent years it has strengthened the policing of its southern border, using both police and army forces, the country doesn’t have a dedicated unit like the US’s Border Patrol.
The new plan would add to Mexico’s existing efforts to crack down on immigration from Central America. Alfonso Durazo, future secretary of public security, said in an interview with Bloomberg that the Obrador administration also plans to encourage development in Central America, in order to solve the structural problems like poverty and violence that force people to flee the region.
The estimated number of Mexicans entering the US through its southern border has dropped considerably from its peak in the 2000s. Meanwhile, the estimated number of Guatemalan, Honduran, and Salvadoran migrants almost doubled from 60,000 in 2011 to 115,000 in 2014.
As Quartz’s Ana Campoy has previously written, immigrants from those countries accounted for most of the “Other than Mexican” category (an official category) of undocumented immigrants apprehended in the United States.
Similarly, the number of Central Americans living in the US has increased 25% between 2007 and 2015, while the number of Mexicans in the country shrank by 6%, according to the Pew Research Center, based on census data.