Mexico intensifies deportations of migrants after very slow months

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MEXICO CITY – Mexico intensified the deportations of Cuban, Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran migrants in an irregular situation after months in which they remained very slow, during an unstoppable migratory flow and two weeks after a high-level meeting with US authorities. The government of the northern country announced the resumption of flights to return Venezuelans to their country.

An official from the Mexican immigration agency, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to give statements, confirmed the reactivation of returns to Cuba and the intensification of returns to the three countries of the Central American Northern Triangle – Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras – although he did not offer figures.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned in a statement on Monday of “the summary of deportations from Mexico to several countries” and urged the authorities to ensure in advance that the safety of those returned is not compromised.

In addition, he has offered his support to help guarantee international protection to those who need it.

Last Saturday, 138 nationals from that country were returned to Cuba, according to the aforementioned immigration authority and confirmed by the UNHCR in a message to the AP, citing the island’s government. Between April and August, only 47 Cubans had been returned compared to almost 900 in December, according to public figures from the Mexican executive.

So far in 2023, more than 400,000 migrants have crossed the Darién jungle, between Colombia and Panama, heading north, an overwhelming number compared to the 250,000 in 2022, which was already a record.

However, returns of irregular migrants from Mexico this year have been much lower than last year, according to official data. From January to August 2023, there were about 38,500 returns, less than half of the same period in 2022. The vast majority took place in the first three months of the year.

The UN agency recalled that in the October 5 meeting between senior Mexican and American officials, Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena said that there would be forceful actions on the immigration issue, including efforts related to assisted returns.

The United States announced at that time that it would resume flights to return Venezuelan migrants in an irregular situation to Venezuela, although it has not been reported if these returns have already begun.

Those that did resume since April were direct deportations from the United States to Cuba—something that had not happened since December 2020—at an approximate rate of one flight per month.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a request for comment from AP on whether the increase in deportations responds to an agreement with Washington.

The government has also offered no explanations for why deportations slowed down starting in April.

On those dates, immigration facilities were closed after the fire at a detention center in which 40 people died and for which eight officials are being prosecuted. There were also subsequent changes to US immigration rules.

UNHCR told AP that “it is foreseeable that deportations to Cuba will continue, one of the nationalities that are arriving the most in Mexico, and that the returns that have not stopped to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras will strengthen; “Other countries may possibly be included.” Returns to these countries had also been reduced substantially in recent months.

On the other hand, Mexico will host a summit on migration this weekend in the southern state of Chiapas, bordering Guatemala, to which President Andrés Manuel López Obrador invited Central American countries and also Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba and Haiti, as indicated when he made the announcement.

On social networks, the Mexican Foreign Minister noted on Monday during her trip to Caracas that Venezuelan Nicolás Maduro had already confirmed his attendance.

According to López Obrador, there will be presented “a joint plan to reduce the migratory flow and help each other so as not to have misfortunes so that migrants do not lose their lives.”

Source: Local 10