Everything You Need To Know About Migration From Mexico Right Now

By Michel Marizco, Mark Brodie
Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2019 - 12:21pm
Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 12:02pm

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MARK BRODIE: The Trump administration has steadily ramped up pressure on neighboring countries to stop migration. The president himself has threatened twice to shut the country's southern border since he took office, then vowed to slap Mexico with tariffs if it doesn't help. This week, he cut aid to the Northern Triangle countries. So what's changed? Here to discuss this with me is KJZZ's Michel Marizco from the Fronteras Desk in Tucson. Michel, good morning.

MICHEL MARIZCO: Good morning.

BRODIE: So let's start off with what exactly has changed. Starting the numbers 440,000 since October. 130,000 last month alone.

Border Patrol migrants
Kris Grogan/CBP Office of Public Affairs
U.S. Border Patrol agents encounter a large group of migrants near Los Ebanos, Texas, in June.

MARIZCO: Yes large amounts of families are being apprehended. In fact, the majority of those apprehended in May were families. Central Americans. You know there are now entire towns just outside of Arizona like Deming, New Mexico, that are marshalling resources to try to help. I'm not talking about NGOs anymore, right? We're talking about municipal government — fire departments opening empty empty city lots and shelters to try to accommodate people. It's changed.

BRODIE: And Mexico, of course, has been beefing up its own border controls. How is that changing how and where people are moving?

MARIZCO: You mean the caravans?


Irineo Mujica
Fiscalia General de la Republica
Irineo Mujica

MARIZCO: So, those caravans were such a sore point for the president. And the optics of thousands of people shuttling together up to the border. A) It was astonishing to watch. B) It was, politically, it was dynamite for the Trump administration. Many of those caravans have grown more organic. They've been fading. They've been driven underground in some ways. You know we talked about the gentleman Irineo Mujica last week who was part of the humanitarian aid worker trial here in Tucson. He ran the group called Pueblos Sin Fronteras, if you recall. And you know, they largely have gone underground themselves. Right now, we're seeing situations like just last Saturday, where Mexico stopped four semitrucks, a total of eight trailers carrying 750 people, they were hidden inside of these trailers. This is very much smuggling. And they told Mexican police officers that they had paid somewhere between $3,500 and $5,000 apiece to be able to be smuggled through Mexico just to reach the U.S. border.

BRODIE: Now Michel, prosecutors of course targeted one man at the center of the original caravans from 2018. Mexico arrested him but then let him go. So is there really a sustained effort to go after people who are smuggling other human beings into the U.S.?

MARIZCO: And I think that that's going to be the next big question for Mexico is not not so much what they do with the migrants but what they do about smugglers. You know, right now smugglers who work along the U.S. border, what we always call the infamous polleros, right? They have it fairly easier because they don't need to bring people across the border. They don't need to touch U.S. soil themselves. They just need to guide them up to the border. So, will Mexico prosecute these smugglers as smugglers? So far, there's been one or two efforts like this gentleman Mr. Mujica last week. But beyond that we haven't seen that yet. The owners of those trucks that were carrying people on Saturday said that they didn't know anybody was even in there.

BRODIE: All right. Certainly plenty to keep our eyes on going forward. As the president makes his moves and other countries make their moves in response. That is KJZZ's Michel Marizco with the Fronteras Desk in Tucson. Michel, thank you.

MARIZCO: Hey, thank you.

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