On December 20, Mexican police evicted the self-organized camp outside of Benito Juarez, a sports park adjacent to the US-Mexico border. Mexican immigration had outfitted the park into an emergency mass shelter for the migrants in mid-November, and it quickly filled with thousands of migrants. [0] They lived there until November 29 when the Mexican government discontinued all food, sanitation, and medical services and told them to relocate to a new shelter, called El Barretal, about 14 miles from the border. Those who refused to leave set up tents and makeshift shelters outside. Since then, about 300 migrants had lived along the sidewalk and roadside by Benito Juarez. [1]

At four a.m., police raided the remaining Benito Juarez shelters.[3] They arrested some migrants and forcibly displaced others to El Barretal, a legal observer reported. In the brutal ejection, the poilice ruined “tents, belongings, documents,” no doubt necessary for asylum claims.

The eviction didn’t make it to morning news cycle. But the Trump adminstration’s policy change did.

Trump’s new policy will compel asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico during their asylum proceedings. Mexico has agreed to retain the migrants and will offer them work visas, if they qualify to stay in the country. In prior negotiations, Mexico had insisted the US also offer work visas, but this provision didn’t make it into the final deal. This new major change in US immigration policy is the next tactic in a long sequence of blatantly racist strategies designed by the Trump administration to discourage Central Americans from seeking asylum in the US, and yet another violation of international law. [2] It is an unlikely coincidence that the Mexican government forcibly removed the migrant camp closest to the US border hours before the annoucement.

Preventing asylum-seekers from reaching the US-Mexico border is a high priority for the Mexican and US governments.

For example, on November 25th, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents fired tear gas and rubber bullets on a group of migrants peacefully marching to the border. [4] In the fall out from the incident, US NGOs even tried to pressure migrants to return to Honduras. [5] By November 29, Tijuana municipal officials had buses outside of Benito Juarez, ready to take the asylum-seekers on the forty-five minute car ride from the border to El Barretal. [6]

Another example, the two governments announced on Tuesday earlier this week a bilateral investment plan to address the uptick in migration from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. [7] According to its pledge, the US promises to invest $ 4.8 billion in Mexico, of which $2 billion will be invested in the southern border of Mexico, a drop in the bucket considering the US expects to spend more than $300 million to deploy thousands of active-duty National Guard members to its southern border from September 2018 to September 2019.[8] The US’s pledge includes $1.8 billion that it has already spent or allocated, and additional private-sector promises to invest in Central America are contingent on “if commercially viable projects are presented.” [9]

The Mexican goverment has pledged to spend 25 billion dollars in the south in the next five years. [7] The new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as by the abbreviation AMLO, is making his intentions clear. “As of December 1, we will provide job opportunities to Central Americans. It is a plan that we have, that anyone who wants to work in Mexico will have a working visa, to provide immigrants with alternatives,” Amlo said. [10] He has also created a new branch of the Army, Guardia Nacional, which may militarize Mexican borderlands with as many as 50,000 soldiers. [11]

Here we have Amlo’s bid to draw attention away from the conflicts besetting the northern border, which for him includes the Central Americans asylum, and to make good on his campaign promise to address poverty in the south. Marcelo Ebrard, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, who made the announcement of the bilateral plan, has yet to specify how much money would be directed to the migrants and how much would go to already scheduled economic development, such as Amlo’s pet project the “Mayan train,” which I’ll return to. [12]

With this pledge, the Mexican government shows that it blames the increase in Central American migration on regional poverty and underdevelopment. This assessment sidesteps the decade of state violence and indigenous dispossession that drives today’s migration from Central America, especially from Honduras. [13] In brief, the US was a lead actor in the military coup that ousted the democratically elected president of Honduaras Manuel Zelaya in 2009. [14] In the six months after the coup, the US took steps to prevent the return of the democratically elected government which allowed the military junta to take hold and design its “totally repressive political and public security model” of government. Within six months, 30 percent of the national territory had been seized and the laws modified to allow territorial dispossession for extraction and concentration of power. Since then, assassinations of indigenous leaders, media censorship, rubberstamp elections, and one of the highest murder rates in the world have plagued the people of Honduras and led thousands to seek asylum in the US. [13]

In a weird twist, Amlo’s pet project, the Mayan Train planned for development and construction over the next several years, parallels the dispossession of indigenous land in Honduras, in part causing the displacement of the same asylum-seekers who, Amlo hopes, will labor to build his train. Amlo announced the Mayan train without consulting with the indigenous communities of the Yucatan Peninsula. [15] The newly created National Institute of Indigenous Peoples may be responsible for organizing the consultations, through which the original peoples of Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Chiapas and Tabasco will decide whether or not to give their consent to the Maya Train project. [16] “With respect to the so-called consultation,” said the communities in a joint statement, “this moment we reject any result that it has either for or against. It is not permissible for anyone, any person outside the Yucatan Peninsula, to decide what can be done or not done in our territories, just as we will never try to decide what will be done with their property, rights and possessions.” [17]

Thus far the Mayan Train plan has had nothing to do with the Mayan people and has demonstrated no benefit to them.

The US continues to exacerbate an already dangerous situation at the southern border. Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan child died in Border Patrol custody on December 8. “This is exactly why we try to encourage migrants to go to a port of entry,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen hypocritically said during a press conference on Thursday, announcing the US new policy, which will delay crossing at the port-of-entry for aslyum inspection for weeks in favor of treating the migrants like a ping-pong ball. [2] On Christmas Eve, Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, an 8-year-old child from Guatemala, died in CBP custody. CBP announced it everything it could be expected to do for Felipe and Jakelin. [18]

From April through the end of the year, Trump will have deployed roughly 6,000 soldiers to the border. Through the Administration is withdrawing some servicemen, the troops remain a vigilant threat and, like Amlo’s new Guadia Nacional, a key example of what these goverments mean by investing in the border. [19]

0 https://communemag.com/the-list/

1 https://psmag.com/social-justice/why-some-migrants-in-tijuana-refuse-to-use-the-new-indoor-shelter & https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/30/americas/migrant-shelter-tijuana/index.html

2 https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/20/trump-migrants-mexico-wait-1071030 & https://www.gob.mx/sre/prensa/posicionamiento-de-mexico-ante-la-decision-delgobierno-de-eua-de-implementar-la-seccion-235-b-2-c-de-su-ley-de-inmigracion-y-nacionalidad?idiom=es & https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-mexico/u-s-commits-5-8-billion-to-develop-central-america-mexico-idUSKBN1OH23X & https://www.theyucatantimes.com/2018/10/amlo-will-provide-working-visas-to-central-americans-immigrants/

3 https://twitter.com/UR_Ninja/status/1075829061291790336

4 https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2018/12/11/CBP-commissioner-defends-use-of-tear-gas-at-border/2271544559708/

5 https://www.nlg.org/webinar-why-do-refugee-caravans-exist-a-lesson-in-geo-political-history-of-central-america/

6 https://fox5sandiego.com/2018/11/30/migrants-begin-arriving-at-new-tijuana-shelter/

7 https://www.animalpolitico.com/2018/12/mexico-eu-inversion-sur-centroamerica-migrantes/

8 https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trumps-border-deployments-could-cost-200-million-by-year-end/2018/11/02/9798d7b6-deeb-11e8-aa33-53bad9a881e8_story.html?utm_term=.837f1ffa6fe2

9 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-mexico/u-s-commits-5-8-billion-to-develop-central-america-mexico-idUSKBN1OH23X

10 https://www.theyucatantimes.com/2018/10/amlo-will-provide-working-visas-to-central-americans-immigrants/

11 https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/seguridad/sedena-construira-desarrollo-inmobiliario-para-financiar-guardia-nacional-amlo & https://www.animalpolitico.com/2018/12/morena-propuesta-guardia-nacional-mando-civil-ejercito/

12 https://www.animalpolitico.com/2018/12/mexico-eu-inversion-sur-centroamerica-migrantes/

13 https://subversiones.org/archivos/134161

14 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-us-role-in-the-honduras-coup-and-subsequent-violence_us_5766c7ebe4b0092652d7a138 & https://www.nlg.org/webinar-why-do-refugee-caravans-exist-a-lesson-in-geo-political-history-of-central-america/

15 https://www.animalpolitico.com/2018/11/comunidades-indigenas-rechazan-tren-maya/ & https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/mayan-activists-reject-train/

16 https://www.animalpolitico.com/2018/11/tren-maya-pueblos-indigenas-amlo/

17 https://www.animalpolitico.com/2018/11/comunidades-indigenas-rechazan-tren-maya/

18 https://www.thecut.com/2018/12/felipe-alonzo-gomez-cbp-death-reports.html

19 https://www.vox.com/2018/4/10/17217146/national-guard-border-immigration-trump-obama & https://www.apnews.com/194c0317f2aa42fc95ac006752b50ea1 & https://www.apnews.com/eea454ccb0004406b1382268802e34f0