Trump Administration Creates Plan to Deport All Illegal Immigrants to Mexico
By Sylvia Longmire
Contributor, In Homeland Security
A new immigration enforcement plan crafted by the Trump administration includes a provision that would allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to deport all illegal immigrants—regardless of nationality—to Mexico. The plan would also require any requests for asylum from citizens of countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to be made from Mexico.
However, this plan requires the Government of Mexico’s cooperation, and is threatening to further deteriorate already strained relations between the two countries. Current deportation policies dictate that Mexican nationals being removed are taken in buses to various ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border and released. From there, they walk into Mexico and are responsible for arranging transportation to their homes elsewhere in the country.
Citizens of Central American countries who are being deported are flown on U.S. government charter flights to their home countries, usually the capital or largest city, from which they have to make their way home. Most of these flights are not full and cost taxpayers several million dollars a year.
Reportedly in an attempt to save the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) some money, DHS Secretary John Kelly signed a memo on February 17 that highlighted Section 235(b)(2)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which authorizes DHS to “return aliens arriving on land from a foreign territory contiguous to the United States to the territory from which they arrived.” The memo also indicated that such a change in policy would “save the Department’s detention and adjudication resources for other priority aliens.”
Both the Mexican government and immigrant advocacy groups are pushing back on this proposal. Former senior Mexican and American immigration officials said it could very well create new security problems along the border as authorities in each country push unwanted migrants back and forth, according to a report by ProPublica.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association said that the proposal would violate U.S. law and international treaty obligations. Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told USA Today on Feb. 22, “I want to make clear, in the most emphatic way, that the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept measures that, in a unilateral way, one government wants to impose on another.”
The manner in which Mexican nationals have been deported has posed danger to them for years. In September 2012, the Los Angeles Times published a story that explained, “Lookouts track new arrivals from the moment they enter Mexico. Gunmen intercept deportees at migrant shelters and buses and outside money-transfer businesses. They hold them for ransom, recruit them into gangs, sometimes assault, torture and ‘disappear’ them. Church-run shelters and social service groups, once safe ground, no longer are.”
Central American deportees are likely to be even more vulnerable, as they have no legal status in Mexico and will find it logistically nearly impossible to stay in order to follow through with asylum claims.
This proposed policy change is only one small part of an overall deportation policy overhaul that is already meeting with considerable political resistance and logistical obstacles. However, it is already effectively serving to strain relations with the Mexican government even further.