The Center for Immigration Studies released an article Monday, stating that Mexico may be doing more harm than good at preventing migrant caravans from crossing the U.S. border.
Members of the organization visited an improvised migrant shelter in Piedras Negras on Feb. 14, a ceramics factory holding about 2,000 caravan members, containing mostly Hondurans. The factory was guarded by federal troops along with both state and local police forces. The detained migrants were given access to internet, doctors, dentists, medical treatment, food, showers and even large-screen televisions with Netflix. But regardless of their treatment, the migrants engaged in several riots and acts of arson, demanding to be freed so that they could finish crossing the border.
“Jose Angel Hinojosa, a Piedras Negras city council member overseeing some operations at the shelter, told CIS that about 25 hardened gang members from Honduras and others who were flagged in law enforcement database systems were identified as responsible for instigating the disturbances and removed last week,” wrote CIS Senior National Security Fellow Todd Bensman. “The disturbances drew riot police and bloodied several migrants. In one disturbance the migrants burned several mattresses, demanding they be freed to finish their journeys to the American border only a few miles north.”
The state of Coahuila announced that it will close the improvised shelter this week. According to CIS, this will open a doorway for migrants to be able to cross the border discretely and in smaller groups, preventing the caravan from receiving mass media attention.
“CIS observed hundreds of migrants waiting in line to apply for special Mexican work visas of a year duration,” Bensman wrote. “At the same time, in another area of the camp, hundreds more migrants with those visas freshly in hand gathered as Mexican immigration officials called out the names of the 100-applicant groups that will be put on at least one waiting bus to some other Mexican city, such as Monterrey or Hermosillo, ostensibly to live and work for the year. And in a third area is the line to board the big, sleek bus parked inside the factory with a hand-written sign on the door that reads: ‘Salida Monterrey’.”
The Mexican government plans to disperse the migrants to different parts of northern Mexico. But officials at the shelter admit that nothing can legally prevent the migrants from simply heading toward the border and take advantage of the asylum loophole in the U.S. All they would need to do is request asylum, even though Central Americans aren’t eligible, be denied asylum and then roam free in U.S. territory due to the shortage of detention space.
“They will breach the border and take advantage of the catch-and-release asylum loophole to join the population of 11 million illegal aliens already in the U.S.,” Bensman said, according to a press release from CIS. “This will certainly encourage the next caravan, and the next, and the next.”