Anticipating New US-Bound ‘Caravan,’ Mexican Minister Says Mexico’s Southern Border Will be Secured to Ensure ‘Legal and Orderly’ Entry

Patrick Goodenough | January 8, 2019 | 4:33am EST
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Mexican Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero addresses a gathering of Mexican diplomats at the foreign ministry in Mexico City on Monday, January 7, 2019. (Photo: SEGOB/Twitter)

( – A day before President Trump gives a prime time Oval Office address on “the humanitarian and national security crisis” on the Southwest border, Mexico’s interior minister outlined plans to strengthen her own country’s porous southern border, where hundreds of illegal crossing points have been identified.

Speaking at a gathering of Mexican diplomats at the foreign ministry, Olga Sánchez Cordero said at least 10,000 migrants had entered Mexico from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala since last October, and that another U.S.-bound “caravan” from the south was expected to arrive in mid-January.

Sánchez Cordero said the government was determined to ensure that “legal and orderly” entry takes place.

As part of the new government’s migration policy, she said, anyone wanting to enter Mexico would have to provide information including reason for entry, biometric data, and an identity document.

“Those who refuse to provide identity or biometric data will not be able to enter Mexican territory.”

For those whose objective in entering Mexico is to travel to the U.S., the government’s policy would be to stipulate “certain deadlines,” so that if access to the U.S. is not possible they return to their countries of origin.

Sánchez Cordero said although Mexico was not the cause of the mass migration phenomenon, it was “willing and determined to be part of the solution.”

To do so it would need the United Nations and Organization of American States (OAS) to assume their “co-responsibility in addressing the phenomenon,” along with the active participation of the governments of the migrants’ countries of origin.

“It is also essential that the governments of the countries of Central America, particularly Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, assume their inescapable responsibilities.”

She noted that there were 12 formal points of entry along the southern (Mexico-Guatemala/ Mexico-Belize) border, but that approximately 370 illegal crossing points had also been detected, and said the government would monitor them to prevent illegal entry into Mexico.

The minister predicted that mass migration would continue, and may even grow in the months and years to come.

“We need to bring order to our borders, and provide migrants with humanitarian aid and the dignified and respectful treatment they deserve,” she said.

Sánchez Cordero stressed that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s instructions were for a humanitarian migration policy, with migrants seen not as delinquents but as human beings seeking to escape insecurity and deprivation in their countries of origin.

Participants in previous caravans that entered Mexico from Central America in the closing months of 2018 have either crossed into the U.S., are waiting in the border city of Tijuana, have taken up offers to be repatriated, or have applied for asylum in Mexico.

Sánchez Cordero’s figures about some 370 illegal crossing points along Mexico’s southern border are not new: They were cited in 2015 in a State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs document, in which the Obama administration outlined ways it was helping the previous Mexican government to secure that border.

They included millions of dollars’ worth of mobile “non-intrusive inspection equipment” – scanners that use X-rays to inspect vehicles – and mobile kiosks used to capture migrants’ biometric and biographical data.

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