Title 42 fallout: Mexico immigration agency stops granting transit permits
Mexico’s migration institute estimates more than 26,500 migrants are waiting at border, with largest group in Ciudad Juárez
Mexico will stop granting transit permits to migrants in response to the United States’ lifting of Title 42, according to the country’s National Migration Institute (INM).
The INM “ordered all immigration offices in all states to not grant Multiple Migration Forms, nor any other document that authorizes transit through the country,” said an informational slide presented during the morning press conference of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Elaborating on an announcement made Wednesday that the INM had temporarily suspended services at 33 provisional migrant shelters in 25 states, the slide also stated that large-scale recoveries of migrants may now “violate human rights, as the agency no longer has space to provide accommodations for the foreigners.”
Neither López Obrador, nor Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, who presented some of the data from the slide, made mention of the order to stop granting transit permits. No explanation was given for how Mexico would deal with flows of migrants lacking legal permission to pass through the country.
Interior Secretary Adán Augusto López, whose cabinet department administers the INM, also did not comment on the order during the press conference.
The INM did not respond to a request for comment. The Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and that of the Interior likewise did not respond to inquiries.
Migrant advocates denounced the order as another brick in a wall of U.S. and Mexican policies that trap migrants in dangerous situations on their way to seek asylum in the United States.
“This will put migrants further at risk,” said Eunice Rendón, coordinator of the Mexico City-based migrant advocacy group Agenda Migrante. “The more difficult they make the journey, the more the criminals who traffic human beings come out the winners.”
Other factors making the asylum process more treacherous for migrants include the 4,000 U.S. National Guard troops deployed at the border, anti-immigrant discourse of an “invasion” from the south, the closing of the INM shelters and the application of Title 8 now that Title 42 has lapsed.
Title 8 allows U.S. border authorities to put asylum seekers in an expedited removal process and also prohibits anyone caught crossing illegally from reentering the country or seeking asylum for five years.
“Everyone considers migrants to be criminals,” said Rendón.
The INM’s order will only strengthen the perception of migrants as criminals, she added.
“They also have [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas threatening them so that they won’t enter the United States, saying they don’t want migrants, and this also creates a huge sense of criminalization of migrants,” said Rendón.
The slide also included the INM's official estimates of how many migrants are waiting at the U.S.-Mexico border: a total of 26,560 in Mexican border cities.
The largest concentration is in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, with 10,000 migrants believed to be located in the city that borders El Paso, Texas. Another 7,000 are said to be in Reynosa, and 5,500 in Matamoros. Both cities border Texas in the state of Tamaulipas.
Smaller concentrations of migrants were cited in Tijuana, Baja California, Nogales, Sonora, and Piedras Negras and Ciudad Acuña, in Coahuila.
López Obrador mocked Mexican journalists who have cited higher estimates of migrants at the border, joking that they have “other data” — the “alternative facts” of Mexico’s current polarized political climate.
While immigration experts have told Courthouse News that the real figure is actually unknown, other sources cite much higher numbers of migrants waiting at the border.
Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told CBS News Thursday that “upwards of 60,000” migrants are in Mexican border cities. Citing an unnamed source familiar with the U.S. federal government’s official estimates, CNN put that number as high as 155,000.