WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
17 Jun 2014 | Publication | News

Mexico’s Other Border: Security, Migration, and the Humanitarian Crisis at the Line with Central America

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Security, Migration, and the Humanitarian Crisis at the line with Central America

By Adam IsacsonMaureen Meyer, and Gabriela Morales, Consultant

Washington, DC—Today, WOLA released a new report, Mexico’s Other Border: Security, Migration, and the Humanitarian Crisis at the Line with Central America, which examines migration patterns, human trafficking and smuggling, security, and U.S. and Mexican policy at Mexico’s southern border. With dozens of images, maps, statistics, and testimonies, the report not only explains what Mexico’s “other border” looks like, it shows very clearly that the real humanitarian emergency is not just in shelters and detention facilities in south Texas—it runs along the entire migration route to the United States.

Mexico’s Other Border also outlines what is at stake for policymakers under pressure to “do something” about the current surge in migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Contrary to what some in Washington allege, lax U.S. border security is not to blame for this surge. (In fact, the number of security personnel on the U.S.-Mexico border has doubled in the past eight years.) WOLA found that Mexican authorities and migrant shelters alike have seen a sharp rise in migration from Central America, including the influx of families and unaccompanied children that authorities are now struggling to manage in south Texas and elsewhere on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Every day, hundreds, if not thousands, of migrants flee poverty and violence in Central America,” said Maureen Meyer, WOLA Senior Associate for Mexico and Migrant Rights. “As the U.S. works to address this crisis, we also need to look southward and examine Mexico’s security efforts along its border with Guatemala and the multiple risks these migrants face on their journey through this country.”

The report documents a modest but accelerating buildup of U.S.-funded security forces and infrastructure on both sides of the Mexico-Guatemala border. In a series of recommendations, authors Adam Isacson, Maureen Meyer, and Gabriela Morales call for an approach that can ease the humanitarian crisis facing Central American migrants in transit, without the risks of a large deployment of undertrained, uncoordinated, and unaccountable military, police, intelligence, and migration forces.

“We didn’t see a lack of border security at Mexico’s southern border. The zone is full of military, police, migration, and customs installations,” said Adam Isacson, Senior Associate for Regional Security. “The problem isn’t boots on the ground. It’s that the people wearing these boots lack training, coordination, and accountability. Simply adding more of them, or giving them more technology, could make the situation worse.”

To listen to a podcast about unaccompanied minors at the border, please click here.

To view an interactive photo and video presentation of the report, please click here.