U.S. Border Patrol agents stop two men at the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo: Google

By MARK LORENZANA

In a span of seven months, between October 2021 and May 2022, the arrests of Mexican migrants trying to cross into the United States soared 35.2 percent. There had been 560,579 arrests in that period, compared to 414,345 arrests from October 2020 to May 2021, according to U.S. government figures.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported on Tuesday, June 28, that from 2021 to this year, Mexican migrants have been leading in arrest figures, surpassing Central American countries El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

The trend of Mexicans arrested for trying to cross the border into the United States has been increasing over the last four years: In 2019, there were 237,078 arrests; in 2020, there were 297,711; in 2021, 655,594 and so far in 2022, there have been 560,579 arrests.

In the last eight months, the CBP reported that 19,463 unaccompanied minors tried to reach U.S. soil.

Migration specialists believe that the lack of employment in Mexico and growing insecurity in the country have triggered a larger number of people to seek greener pastures in the United States.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Earl Anthony Wayne said that the recent tragedy in San Antonio, Texas, in which 51 migrants died — at least 27 of whom were identified as Mexican citizens — inside an abandoned trailer, is “a reminder that the United States and Mexico must improve monitoring of who (and what) crosses their common border.”

“We have long needed to invest more in technology and facilities to detect border crossings,” he said.

Wayne added that it is necessary to deploy this technology in both directions of the border, in addition to improving the training of border authorities involved in containing the crossings.

“Both the United States and Mexico can do a lot to improve the situation, investing more budget in an intelligent way,” Wayne said.

He argued that more programs are needed to help protect migrants in their own countries, as well as offer more job opportunities.

“Many migrants are in grave danger, as this horrific incident makes clear. The Los Angeles Summit of the Americas declaration on migration points to the need for much more cooperative and urgent work by many countries and international organizations,” Wayne said.

For his part, Roberto Zepeda Martínez, research professor at the Center for North American Studies (CISAN) at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), pointed out that at the beginning of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) six-year term, signs were already present indicating that there had to be changes in the country’s own policies to help curb the need for Mexicans to resort to crossing into the United States, but that in the end, López Obrador had to collaborate with the United States to contain the migratory flows.

“The countries of Central America, Mexico and the United States must design strategies to reduce the factors that force migrants to leave their nations of origin,” Zepeda Martínez said.

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