‘Mexico has become Trump’s wall’: how Amlo became an immigration enforcer

Of interest (just as the Safe Third Country Agreement acts as a wall with the USA):

When a group of Central American families forded the Suchiate River into Mexico last week, they were greeted by a wall of national guardsmen who locked riot shields and fired teargas into the crowd.

Questioned about the incident, Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, dismissed it as “an isolated case” and said such scenes were “not the style of this government”.

The very next day, the national guard once again teargassed migrants near the border with Guatemala. News footage showed women and children howling in distress as guardsmen rounded them up and loaded them on to buses.

The president, generally referred to as Amlo, once railed against the abuse visited on migrants. In opposition, he pleaded for Mexico to provide safe passage to people heading for the US border.

But 13 months into his presidency – and under the looming threat of US tariffs – Amlo has assumed a new role: immigration enforcer.

The president his struggled to reconcile his past rhetoric with current actions, claiming good intentions at every turn, invoking human rights and even citing scripture to call for the proper treatment of migrants.

But Amlo has staunchly defended the national guard, a militarised police forced he created last year ostensibly to fight organized crime. Its first deployment was against migrants, even as violence continues to wrack the country.

“The national guard resisted a lot because there was aggression, on the part of the migrants,” he told reporters. “They didn’t fall in the trap of responding with violence, which is possibly what the leaders of these caravans and our political adversaries were looking for.”

Cabinet ministers parroted the same line: “In no way was there an act of repression,” said the interior minister, Olga Sánchez Cordero. “A tragedy was avoided,” said the foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard.

The National Immigration Institute, meanwhile, said that it had “rescued” 800 migrants – using the word as a euphemism for “arrested”.

As he swept to power in 2018, Amlo promised to end a bitter history of government repression: under successive administrations, soldiers and police have often been deployed to disperse – and disappear – protesters and opposition activists.

“Mexico has a long history of its government acting out against its citizens,” said Esteban Illades, editor of the magazine Nexos.

But the arrival of migrant caravans from Central America has exposed the extreme ideological promiscuity of Mexican politics. Like his ministers, members of Amlo’s coalition have followed the president’s lead and turned against the caravans.

Source: ‘Mexico has become Trump’s wall’: how Amlo became an immigration enforcer

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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