Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 July 2019

Mexico announces National Guard deployment to southern border

The deployment is part of a migration control deal Mexico signed with the US last week

Mexican officials said Tuesday they were beginning deployment of the country's National Guard for immigration enforcement, but on Wednesday morning, commuters, merchandise and occasional groups of migrants continued to flow freely across Mexico's porous southern border. AP
Mexican officials said Tuesday they were beginning deployment of the country's National Guard for immigration enforcement, but on Wednesday morning, commuters, merchandise and occasional groups of migrants continued to flow freely across Mexico's porous southern border. AP

Deployment of National Guard forces to Mexico's southern border will advance quickly under a migration control deal signed last week with the United States, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Wednesday, although there were no visible signs on the ground late in the day.

Under the deal signed on Friday, Mexico agreed to take steps to control the flow of people from Central America, including deploying 6,000 members of the country's National Guard across its border with Guatemala.

"Starting from today, and in the coming days, the deployment is going to progress rapidly," Mr Ebrard said during President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's regular morning news conference.

However, a Reuters photographer in Southern Mexico showed no signs of National Guard forces being deployed late on Wednesday – only regular checkpoints by the army, marines and the Federal Police.

Friday's deal averted a 5 per cent import tariff on Mexican goods, which President Donald Trump had vowed to impose unless Mexico did more to curb illegal migration into the US. Mexico also agreed to a 45-day timeline to show that increased enforcement efforts were effective.

"A lot of things have to happen in 45 days," Mr Ebrard said. "We are going to do what we said we are going to do."

Details of how much Mexico will spend on the border security measures will be made public on Friday, he said.

Mr Lopez Obrador said some of the money needed to pay for the beefed-up migration program will come from selling the former presidential plane, at a minimum price of $150 million (Dh550m), and from the sale of other aircraft used in the prior administration.

Mr Ebrard said Mexico implemented a working group with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to coordinate efforts to stem the tide of people fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.

Mexico will meet on Friday with US immigration officials to hammer out details of the new plan, he added, aiming to secure a commitment to faster asylum proceedings.

United Nations child relief agency UNICEF will be invited to provide assistance on the southern border, focusing on unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America, Mr Ebrard said.

Updated: June 13, 2019 11:44 AM

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