Mexican authorities are worried Joe Biden is incentivizing the recent surge of migrants from places like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which is being exploited by drug cartels and other organized crime. This is according to a Reuters report published Wednesday, citing internal assessments, intelligence and testimonies.
Mexican intelligence estimates that the smugglers charge around $3,250 for each unaccompanied minor, and up to $20,000 for Africans or Asians who wish to come to the US through Mexico.
“Migrants have become a commodity,” one Mexican official said, adding that the cartels now see them as valuable as drugs. “But if a packet of drugs is lost in the sea, it’s gone. If migrants are lost, it’s human beings we’re talking about.”
One of the few Mexican officials willing to go on record, Chihuahua attorney general Cesar Peniche, told Reuters that criminals have been recruiting migrants as drug mules or kidnapping them for ransom. Chihuahua is the Mexican state that has the longest border with the US.
Peniche added that both Mexican and US policy need to be more clear, “so as not to spur illegal migration.”
While official Mexico City did not comment for the story, Reuters reported that the Mexican authorities were seriously considering “improving the infrastructure” on the 541-mile (871-km) border with Guatemala – in effect, putting up their own “wall” on the border with Central America, for all that they’ve denounced Trump’s wall on the US border with Mexico.
Organized crime syndicates shifted gears from the day Biden took office and are showing an “unprecedented” level of sophistication in funneling migrants north, one anonymous Mexican official told the agency. Traffickers are using Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and YouTube to tell the migrants where they might encounter checkpoints, which freight trains to jump on, and how they can use loopholes in immigration laws.
For example, Central Americans are told to claim they are victims of extortion or face death threats from gangs, such as the notorious MS-13. They are also told to bring children along, so they will have an easier time claiming asylum, according to Mexican intelligence assessments.
After Democrats condemned detention of unaccompanied minors as keeping “children in cages,” the Trump administration sought to deter traffickers by demanding asylum-seekers stay in Mexico as they plead their case. This drastically decreased the number of children – and migrants in general – attempting to cross into the US.
Biden’s reversal of those policies in early February was followed by a surge of migrants north through Mexico, some wearing T-shirts with his campaign logo and a message, “please let us in.”