Mexico’s president launched a five-part program to “protect the human rights of migrants entering and transitioning through Mexico as well as improve organization at international crossings to boost security in the region.”
Enrique Peña Nieto said the Southern Border Program will improve infrastructure at the ports of entry in Mexico’s southern border and reinforce mobile checkpoints.
Last year, more than 250,000 people were caught crossing into Mexico illegally, 41 percent were from Guatemala, 32 percent from Honduras and 19 percent from El Salvador, according to Mexican government officials.
Tens of thousands of migrants from Central America travel through Mexico on foot, via bus or riding on top of freight trains as they try to reach the United States every year. Mexico has been criticized for unfair treatment of migrants, especially indigenous Central American migrants.
Peña Nieto’s plan calls for improving the conditions in which migrant shelters operate.
“We will support DIF (child welfare) shelters which temporarily house child migrants, no only in the south but in the north of the country, which have recently been overwhelmed by child migration,” he said.
So far this year, Mexico has assisted more than 11,000 child and teen migrants; half of them were without parents or adult relatives.
A new Office of Coordination for Comprehensive Migration Assistance at the southern border has been created to implement Peña Nieto’s plan.