Monday, April 13, 2015



Note: From Fierce Homeland Security and Wilson Center, Mexico Institute.

Topics: Border Protection | Counternarcotics | Oversight

On Mexico's other border, trade and travel largely uncontrolled
April 9, 2015 | By Zach Rausnitz

Conditions at Mexico's southern border show little to suggest that Mexico and Guatemala have enough capacity for or interest in building the kind of strict controls seen at Mexico's northern border, a new report indicates.

Last month, researchers from the the Washington, D.C.-based Wilson Center alongside researchers from Mexico traveled to the Mexico-Guatemala border to observe conditions there and the prospects for increased border enforcement. The Wilson Center collected their observations in an April 1 report.

Mexico's southern border has drawn more attention from the United States due to the massive influx of unaccompanied minors across the U.S.-Mexico border last year. Those children largely came from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, prompting U.S. and Mexican officials to consider ways to heighten controls at Mexico's southern border.

As detailed in the report, the researchers who traveled to that border region found a dynamic very different from that of the U.S.-Mexico border.

"It takes no more than a minute at the border to realize passports, visas, and import and export procedures are largely optional," noted one of the researchers. "It is hard to imagine significant advances in stemming the flow of drugs and criminals when people and product bounce back and forth across the border unregulated in plain sight of the very authorities charged with stopping them."

Indifference is not the only impediment to more regulation, however. "A makeshift, but organized system of piers and rafts built with big inner tubes and planks, defies any logic of control on the part of immigration and customs authorities," another of the researchers wrote.

While leaders in Mexico have said they'll address the lack of controls along the southern border, efforts to do so are still largely abstract and may never receive sufficient funding, the report notes. Enforcing controls and inspections would also require a new paradigm to take hold that replaces the current system in which cross-border traffic "is still self-managed by the local communities," the report says.

Additionally, residents along the Mexico-Guatemala border don't have the same concerns as Americans who are trying to stop migrants from reaching the United States without authorization. On the subject of teenagers traveling through the region without their parents, "local experts and advocates alike saw this as being a normal occurrence," one researcher noted.

For more:
- read the report 17 pages.


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