The thousands of unaccompanied minor immigrants from Central America has the government scrambling for solutions to feed, house, and process this children for stays or deportation. The situation has been called an “urgent humanitarian crisis” by President Barack Obama. However, the latest crackdown on immigration has come not from the United States, but from Mexico.
The Arizona Daily Star reports that Mexico's strongest crackdown in decades has greatly reduced the numbers of Central Americans attempting the journey across Mexico into the U.S.
The notorious freight train known as “La Bestia,” or The Beast, has been the mode of transportation for thousands of immigrants on its route through Mexico north to the U.S. border. Associated Press journalists reported witnessing Mexican federal police and immigration agents raiding the train during a nighttime unscheduled stop. Mexican officials have also set up roving roadblocks to check the documents of interstate bus passengers.
After Mexican authorities began catching migrants riding atop the trains, and sending them to deportation centers, news quickly spread through Central America. As a result, many families and minor migrants have decided not to make the trip, and are staying in their home countries or going only as far as Mexico.
Hoping the slow moving train for the long ride north has always been a dangerous journey. Gangs roved the tops of the trains, taking money from the passengers. Others risked falling to death or dismemberment to the tracks below. With the aim of preventing people from being able to so easily hop on board, Mexico is seeking track improvements to increase train speed.
Track improvements are scheduled for six southern Mexican states. The head of the federal southern border improvement plans said that satellite monitored vehicles will be used to search cargo trains near the Mexican-Guatemalan border.
Now both American and Mexican officials are reporting a large drop off in the number of migrants coming up primarily from Central America. “So we're seeing a significant downward trend in terms of these unaccompanied children,” President Obama reported.
Requests for stepped-up immigration enforcement from the U.S. have gone out to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. As a result of the crackdown, fewer women and children are making the journey. Criminal gangs are also making the trek more dangerous. Migrant travelers have been getting off the buses and trains before the checkpoints to walk around them through the woods. Now bandits have taken to hiding in the woods, robbing the migrants as they seek cover.
It is not yet clear if the crackdown is only temporary, or part of Mexico's new approach to enforcing immigration. However, the increased enforcement and criminal activity has resulted in fewer Central Americans attempting to cross into the U.S. Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol has indicated the agency is seeing only about 30 to 40 children crossing each day, down from a peak of 300 a day earlier in the summer. Many adult immigrants instead say they will try and look for work in Mexico.