Travelers clearing Immigration at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM). Photo: Google

By MARK LORENZANA

Agents of Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM) at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) accused their superiors on Thursday, June 9, of heading a corruption network to extort migrants.

According to the complaint, managers are forcing employees to charge up to $1,000 to facilitate the transit of undocumented passengers.

In addition to the complaint are various claims from academic groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) about the illegal detention, this past weekend, of delegates from the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO) 2022 Conference held at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

An academic participating in the conference posted on social media the “unbelievable xenophobia and mistreatment by INM agents” toward the researchers attending the conference. He added that academics had been “held incommunicado, threatened with deportation and subjected to pure arbitrariness.”

The Trade Union Association of University Professors of Colombia, in a statement,  denounced the “arbitrary detention” of Colombian professors by immigration authorities at the AICM.

Luisa Natalia Caruso, a teacher at the National Pedagogical University, and María Teresa Pinto, from the National University of Colombia, were both held and isolated for several hours on Friday, June 3, according to the statement. The group also claimed that, a day before, immigration authorities held professor Sergio de Zubiría Samper for several hours, along with two Central American colleagues, who were later deported.

“It is time to demand a little clarification from the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). The Mexican government believes in defending social rights, but the practices of its immigration authorities that discriminate against rights defenders and social researchers from sister countries go against these beliefs,” said the statement.

The NGO Lawyers without Borders claimed that these arrests at AICM are frequent and affect migrants, asylum seekers, tourists and academics alike.

The complaint filed by INM employees named Martha Carolina Rodríguez Hernández, deputy director of immigration procedures, as the mastermind of an extortion network that also punishes agents who refuse to take part in the abuses.

In the complaint, supported by more than 60 agents and sent to the Internal Control Body (OIC), the agents revealed that in a span of a month — between November and December of last year — the INM terminated 50 employees for refusing to take part in the abuses.

According to the complaint, Rodríguez Hernández was removed from her position at the beginning of the year, but instead of being subjected to an investigation, she was sent to the INM headquarters in Polanco, a posh neighborhood in the Miguel Hidalgo municipality of Mexico City. However, due to a lack of personnel at the AICM, the official was eventually reinstated.

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