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Joe Biden.  Photo: MINI BIDEN
Joe Biden. Photo: Mini Biden

Boom in migrant smuggling sets off alarms in the Mexican government

The Mexican government has raised concerns that the asylum policies of the new Biden administration may encourage illegal immigration and expand smuggling.

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Detentions at Mexico's border with the United States have increased since Biden took office on Jan. 20. The Mexican government has called on the United States to provide development aid to Central America, where most of the migrants come from, to stem the humanitarian crisis.

"They see him as the president of the migrants, and that's why many feel they are going to come to the United States," the Mexican president said of Biden after a virtual meeting between the leaders.

Previously undisclosed details in internal assessments, testimonies and intelligence gathered assert that gangs are diversifying smuggling methods, and gaining clients while observing U.S. measures that "incentivize migration."

The humane treatment of victims of gangs and violence, the streamlining of undocumented entry into the legal system, and the suspension of Trump-era agreements that deported hundreds of people to Central America all worry the Mexican government in terms of potentially encouraging migration.

But recent Mexican policies could also encourage migration, measures such as offering COVID-19 vaccines to migrants, as well as better protections for undocumented children, may be taken as an 'incentive.' 

The problem in the context of these policies is that organized crime has been changing its modus operandi "since the day Biden took office," and now exhibits "unprecedented" levels of sophistication. Assessments show that technology is being used to circumvent authorities, to inform clients about the latest immigration rules, and to disguise smuggling operations as travel agencies. 

While Mexico has praised Biden for offering the possibility of citizenship to millions of U.S. residents of Mexican origin and for reversing Trump-era policies, government officials warn that migrants are the new gang commodity.

Like the Mexican policy, the resolutions to be issued in the United States should be clear to avoid 'stimulating' illegal immigration, a Mexican official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The use that these criminals are giving to social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and YouTube is informative, to facilitate the passage of illegal migrants, even providing recommendations to migrants such as bringing their children with them to facilitate their asylum application.

Some Mexican officials have also proposed improving infrastructure along its own southern border with Guatemala to counter this new migration problem.

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