Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador plans to establish a border police force to combat illegal immigration and the problems associated with it, such as drug and weapons smuggling and human trafficking.
The announcement comes at a time when President Donald Trump is facing intense criticism for his policies addressing illegal immigration.
What are the details?
For years, Mexico has been plagued with high levels of illegal immigration on its southern border. Migrants traveling north from war-torn Central America have at times overwhelmed Mexican authorities.
And while most of the migrants use the border as a gateway toward a better life, others use it to smuggle drugs and weapons, which amounts to a major problem for cartel-controlled Mexico.
But that’s all allegedly going to change with the upcoming administration.
Alfonso Durazo, Lopez Obrador’s future chief of public security, said in an interview with Bloomberg published Monday that the border police force is part of a larger effort to ease cartel violence, overwhelming poverty, and state-supported corruption.
“We’re going to create a border police force that will be highly specialized,” Durazo said. “They need to apply the law.”
Not only will the border force combat Mexico’s surging illegal immigration problem, Durazo said the police force will also thwart human trafficking, another highly lucrative business in Mexico’s underworld.
Fortunately for the U.S., Durazo said the border force will be deployed to both the nation’s southern and northern borders.
Is the new administration’s plan more nuanced?
According to Durazo, a border force is only one part of the solution to Mexico’s complex security issues.
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Durazo stressed that the most important measures to contain immigration under Lopez Obrador will be humanitarian and will include coordination with Central American countries to improve the quality of life of their citizens.
The new administration’s first priority will be to fight the causes of the violence. For example, to prevent corruption, it will significantly increase salaries and benefits for law enforcement officials and create more police academies to double the number of security personnel that can receive training per year, he said.
In addition, Lopez Obrador plans to implement “transitional justice” in the fight against the drug cartels, which Olga Sanchez, Lopez Obrador’s proposed interior minister, defined as “leniency for those who admit guilt, truth commissions to investigate atrocities and the granting of reparations for some victims.”
Many have equated the plan with over-the-top amnesty. Sanchez did not rebut the characterization.
“We will propose decriminalization, create truth commissions, we will attack the causes of poverty, we will give scholarships to the youth and we will work in the field to get them out of the drug situation,” she said last week.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to meet with Lopez Obrador’s team on Friday, where the two will likely discuss immigration and the incoming administration’s security plans.
Lopez Obrador takes power Dec. 1.