“Outsourcing” Deportation Back to Hell

October 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


La Migra cops arresting immigrant youth for deportation, August 2014.
La Migra cops arresting immigrant youth for deportation, August 2014. AP photo

Over the past six months journalists have been reporting on the vast increase in the deportations from southern Mexico of Central American immigrants; and on the even more difficult and dangerous journey these immigrants face now that they have become targets of Mexican police and immigration authorities. Forced to find more remote and dangerous regions to avoid checkpoints and police raids, they now face greater risk of robbery, rape, disappearance, and death.

The Sunday, October 11, New York Times Magazine featured a powerful opinion piece by Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey. The article, which included interviews with immigrants trapped in aid shelters in southern Mexico, is titled “The Refugees at Our Door: We are paying Mexico to keep people from reaching our border, people who are fleeing Central American Violence.” She begins:

In the past 15 months, at the request of President Obama, Mexico has carried out a ferocious crackdown on refugees fleeing violence in Central America. The United States has given Mexico tens of millions of dollars for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 to stop these migrants from reaching the United States border to claim asylum. Essentially the United States has outsourced a refugee problem to Mexico that is similar to the refugee crisis now roiling Europe.

Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"

To stop these immigrants from reaching the U.S., it is sponsoring the hunting of migrants in Mexico and forcing them to return to their homelands, and often to their death. A conservative estimate from statistics available is that 91 migrants deported back to their countries have been murdered.

U.S. rulers’ solution to their “urgent humanitarian situation”—Pay their clients to do the dirty work

In June 2014 a serious humanitarian crisis on the U.S.’s southern border suddenly came to light when tens of thousands of people—half of them mothers with young children, and the other half unaccompanied minors—began appearing in large numbers, seeking asylum from desperate economic conditions and raging gang violence threatening their lives if they remained in their own countries.

Children with and without their mothers had been forced to take dangerous journeys from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—Central America’s poorest nations—where conditions are the direct result of decades of bloody repression, domination, and exploitation by U.S. imperialism. During the 1980s, the U.S. directly and through its flunky governments waged and led genocidal campaigns in several Central American countries to crush rebellions influenced by its imperialist rival, the Soviet Union. Their economies have been devastated by the “free trade agreement” imposed a decade ago, and gangs have filled the economic void, creating countries with vast areas run by gangs and police under their influence.

Carefully avoiding the term “crisis,” Obama declared it an urgent humanitarian “situation.” But the “urgent situation” as the ruling class saw it wasn’t the challenge of welcoming these immigrants, meeting their immediate needs, and finding them decent housing while those with family members already in this country could be reunited with them. Rather, the challenge for the leaders of the empire responsible for the horrific conditions they are trying to escape was to quickly find and build more detention centers to jail them instead of releasing them to await their asylum hearing; to speed up the legal process to send them back; and to stop this surge from happening and deliver the message to anyone else considering doing the same thing—”forget it.”

Southern Border Plan

Central American migrants riding "La Bestia," a freight train that had provided a major route across Mexico prior to the crackdown, August 2014.
Central American migrants riding "La Bestia," a freight train that had provided a major route across Mexico prior to the crackdown, August 2014. AP photo

A key part of their strategy has been to give Mexico more than $80 million to launch what is called the Southern Border Plan (Plan Frontera Sur), which has unleashed the “ferocious crackdown” against Central American immigrants coming into Mexico. Mexican authorities sent hundreds of agents to the south to stop the flow of immigrants across the southern border, setting up checkpoints to pick them up and send them back. They carried out over 20,000 raids in 2014 in the bus stations, hotels, and highways where migrants travel, and on the freight trains. Until then, making the dangerous trip atop a freight train, known as “La Bestia,” had been a major route across Mexico. Migrants were now chased off the trains, and shot at with Tasers. Concrete structures were built so the migrants couldn’t get to the trains; and overhead barriers forced them off the tops of the trains along the way.

As a result, there are children walking the length of Mexico, often at night, to avoid detection. And all along the way the women and children have to be constantly on the lookout for criminals who rob, beat and sexually assault them, and take their money, and for the Mexican police, who capture them, often demanding bribes for not being sent back. The shelters along the way, intended to be short term rest stops before moving north, have now become refugee centers.

A 24-year-old Salvadoran woman trying to escape a gang told a reporter that the trip to a shelter in Ixtepec, about 150 miles into Mexico, had once taken her three days. This time it took her nearly a month, walking most of the way, and once barely escaping Mexican immigration agents who shot her with a Taser*: “Problem Solved.”

From the perspective of the U.S. imperialists, their plans appear to be “working.” Between October 2014 and April 2015, Mexico deported 92,889 Central Americans, almost double the 49,893 in the same period a year earlier. Over the same period, the U.S. detained 70,226 people “other than Mexicans,” most from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The year before it had captured 159,103. Mexico is expected to detain 70 percent more Central Americans this year than previously, while the U.S. is expected to cut its detentions of Central Americans in half. More than 24,000 women were deported from Mexico in 2014, twice the number in 2013. And the upsurge in child detentions was even greater—climbing 230 percent to over 23,000. For the ghouls in Washington: Problem Solved.

Nazario points out that while the Central American immigrants are legally eligible to seek asylum in Mexico, the government puts enormous obstacles in their way. Those detained and allowed to apply are kept in detention while waiting for months, or even years, kept in rat-infested, unspeakable conditions. And those who apply have only a 20 percent likelihood of having asylum granted; in this country, it is 50 percent.

U.S. officials are shedding “crocodile tears” for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants now desperately seeking to escape the catastrophe the U.S. has created in the Middle East. And they seek to distance themselves from the ugly, fascistic response coming from some European states. But nothing can cover over the blood of the people of Central America on their hands, who are witness to the real way these imperialists cover their crimes when they arrive at their doorstep.

* “Mexico’s migration crackdown escalates dangers for Central Americans,” Jo Tuckman, Guardian, October 13, 2015




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