On Monday, Mexico announced it would be sending nearly 15,000 troops to its northern border with the US in a continued effort to reduce the number of migrant crossings.
“In the northern part of the country we have deployed a total of almost 15,000 troops composed of National Guard elements and military units,” said Mexico’s Secretary of Defense Luis Sandoval.
This comes as part of a new agreement between Mexico and the US that was struck earlier this month to curb illegal migrant crossings into the US.
Numbers of these crossing have been rising steadily since the beginning of the year, with over 132,000 people being apprehended and detained in the month of May alone, which is the highest it has been in 13 years.
This also brings the total number of people caught in this fiscal year to almost 600,000.
Talks about the rising number of crossings have been on President Trump’s agenda for some time. However, after getting nowhere with either Mexico or Congress, he threatened to impose a tariff on all incoming Mexican goods if a deal could not be made.
The tax would have started on June 10th at 5% and be increased by another 5% monthly until it reached 25% in October. Mexico had about 45 days to come to the table and work something out.
In addition, Sandoval announced that Mexico would be sending another 2000 troops to its southern borders with Guatemala and Belize, where a large percentage of migrants are traveling from, as well as Honduras and El Salvador.
This brings the total number of troops at those southern borders to about 6500.
The Mexican government has also said that it is working with government officials in those countries to even further limit the flow of illegal migrants.
In addition, it has been noted that the Department of Homeland Security has sent agents into Guatemala to further “disrupt and interdict human smuggling operations” along the Mexican border.
And the United Nations has also been consulted with on the migrant issues that run rampant through the country of Mexico.
However, Sandoval has acknowledged that the use of their National Guard to help apprehend and detain illegal immigrants would be something they were not accustomed to.
According to the director for defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America Adam Isacson the Mexican National Guard was organized “to deal with organized crime and security, not to interdict migrants, which are not a security threat for Mexico.”
It was also noted that the organization was only put into place at the start of the year, and therefore its troops are limited both in number and experience. The National Guard is run by the civilian Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection.
Its forces are made up of military police units of the army and navy, as well as members of the Federal Police.
Among the National Guard members will also be troops of the Mexican Army (Ejercito Mexicano) and the Cuerpo de Infanteria de Marina or Naval Infantry Corps.
This group is considered to be similar to the US Marines. However, it is still in its fledgling stage as well, as its first recruits will graduate later this month.