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THE head of Mexico’s immigration agency has ordered the suspension of migrant deportations and transfers, it was reported on Monday.
Mexican authorities say they lack funds to deal with a record-setting year for migration through the country’s territory.
In an agency memo dated December 1 from director Francisco Gardun, Mexico’s Finance Ministry suspended payments to the National Immigration Institute in November due to end of year budget adjustments.
Citing budget constraints “and the lack of liquidity to cover commitments,” Mr Garduno ordered a halt to various agency activities, most notably the “assisted returns,” a government euphemism to describe deportations and “ground transportation for transfer of irregular migrants.”
Mexico’s government had been frequently moving migrants from points north near the United States border to locations in the south in part to relieve pressure on border cities, but also to exhaust migrants, according to advocates.
Mexico has recorded nearly 590,000 undocumented migrants in its territory this year, a significant increase compared to 440,000 in all of last year and fewer than 310,000 in 2021, according to government data.
Mexico has already deported far fewer migrants this year than in recent years. From January to October, the government deported 51,000 migrants, compared to nearly 122,000 in all of last year and more than 130,000 in 2021.
With the halt to funding, “Mexico is likely to rely more heavily on National Guard soldiers for migration management, a mission that they are barely prepared to fulfil,” said Adam Isacson, an immigration analyst with the Washington Office on Latin America.
“The result is likely to be a sharp decline in Mexico’s migrant apprehensions during December and migrants may have a modestly easier time than usual reaching the US border.”
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