United Nations Concerned About Mexico’s Actions Against Migrants//REUTERS
MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador faces growing criticism he is doing U.S. President Donald Trump’s bidding after erecting a “wall” of security forces who clashed with Central American migrants near the Guatemala border this week.
Mexico, under the threat of punitive U.S. tariffs, has bowed to Trump’s demands to contain mass movements of migrants who have been traveling through on their way to the U.S. border.
Such concessions previously stirred little criticism from the Mexican public, due to Lopez Obrador’s reputation as a leftist willing to support the poor, including migrants from other countries.
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But scenes of Mexico’s National Guard security force marching behind riot shields straight into a large group of Central Americans and using tear gas has triggered growing dissent, including condemnation from the United Nations.
Lopez Obrador was questioned at his morning news conference for a second day in a row about how the National Guard military police and the National Migration Institute (INM) treat migrants.
“It’s a wall of riot shields,” said Duncan Wood, director of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute in Washington. “I didn’t think I would live to see the day when Mexico would do this kind of thing.”
Trump has made immigration a key issue in his bid for re-election in November and is pushing for construction of a wall along the U.S-Mexico border.
Mexican offices of several U.N. agencies said in a joint statement they were worried by Thursday’s operation and its impact on children and “other vulnerable populations.”
“Mexico has the right to control the entry of foreigners as long as there is no excessive use of force,” the groups wrote, urging Mexico not to separate families. An operation during the week led some parents to temporarily lose track of their children.
Television images have shown the National Guard corralling entire families and loading them onto buses for detention and then deportation.
Since a standoff with Trump over soaring numbers of Central Americans seeking asylum at the U.S. border, Mexico has deployed thousands of National Guard to stem the flow.
Apprehensions at the border have fallen by about 70 percent over seven straight months.
However, the Mexican government’s response has pushed migrants to take more dangerous routes, said Christopher Gascon, head of the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Mexico mission.