Is Mexico turning its back on migrants?

For decades, Mexico welcomed Spanish, Chilean, Argentinian, and Uruguayan refugees

Is Mexico turning its back on migrants?
English 12/06/2019 09:38 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:42

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The demand to stop the arrival of migrants from Central America and other regions to the U.S. southern border will be a test for Mexico's migration system, the government's ability to provide aid to thousands of asylum seekers, as well as tolerance towards foreigners.

The situation is complicated. On one hand, yesterday President López Obrador announced that federal programs will be also implemented in the southern border to create more jobs to employ Central American migrants. Nevertheless, according to a poll published by EL UNIVERSAL today, the percentage of Mexicans who agree with preventing the entry of undocumented migrants is on the rise and almost 60% is against granting asylum to them, and a similar number is against giving them work visas.

For the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Mexico, the country has a small refugee population, in contrast with the number of inhabitants.

The country can provide refuge to more migrants but previous administrations weren't interested in this issue. In fact, migration was promoted for many years. The phenomenon was allowed to increase without bringing order to the transit of Central Americans. Human Trafficking groups operated freely. The Beast became a common term to refer to the train migrants climbed into to travel from south to central Mexico.

Now that the U.S. government is pressuring Mexico to stop the migration flow, operative weaknesses emerge to bring order to the chaos at the border.

Mexico's tradition during the 20th century has to grant asylum to those who fled antidemocratic regimes or countries at war hasn't prevailed during this century. It's been 80 years since Mexico welcomed Spanish exiles who fled the Franco regime and the civil war. Decades ago, Chileans, Argentinians, and Uruguayans decided to migrate to Mexico after being ruled by military regimes. These stories seem to be forgotten.

Those who are against migrants and foreigners are starting to become a majority in Mexico. We can't forget that for decades, Mexicans experienced that treatment in the U.S. when they were looking for a better life. No one is asking for a massive entry of migrants but rather an orderly and regulated flow. Now the government and society are about to face a difficult test.