Day 6

The other refugee crisis: Mexico's brutal crackdown on migrants

The first boats of migrants being deported from Greece arrived in Turkey this week in a controversial new EU plan. But Greece isn't the only country using harsh tactics to control its border crossings. Carolina Jimenez, Americas Deputy Director of Research at Amnesty International, tells Brent about the brutal handling of migrants in Mexico.
Honduran migrant Blanca Lydia Valenzuela, 61, wipes a tear while at a shelter for undocumented immigrants on September 15, 2014 in Tenosique, Mexico. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Listen8:54

This week, the first boats of migrants were deported from Greece to Turkey as part of a controversial EU plan to stem the flow of migrants into Europe.

The plan has been heavily criticized by human rights groups, who say the harsh measures leave Syrian refugees without adequate protection. But Greece is not the only country to implement these harsh tactics to stem the flow of migrants across their borders.

Carolina Jimenez, the Americas Deputy Director of Research at Amnesty International, has been outspoken against the brutal handling of migrants by ​Mexico's National Immigration Institute.

I think it is very clear that Mexico has a double discourse when it comes to migration.- Carolina Jimenez , Americas Deputy Director of Research at Amnesty International
A migrant girl in Ixtepec, Mexico, waits for a freight train to depart on her way to the U.S. border. (Getty/File photo)

The treatment of migrants crossing the border into Mexico from Central America has worsened dramatically in recent years, according to ​Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. 

Jimenez says the crackdown began in 2014, when a surge in Central American child migrants prompted Mexico to introduce its notoriously harsh Southern Border Plan under pressure from the U.S. government.

A Salvadoran father carries his son while running next to another immigrant as they try to board a train heading to the Mexican-U.S. border in 2015. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

"It seems that from that moment onwards, Mexico became the country that started doing the dirty work — meaning, stopping migrants within the borders of Mexico so these migrants wouldn't reach the U.S.," says Jimenez.

Worse yet, it appears Mexican immigration officials have begun detaining and even torturing indigenous Mexicans in their haste to deport illegal migrants. Last September, an indigenous Mexican farmer from Chiapas province was detained by immigration agents and tortured into falsely admitting he was a Guatemalan.

From that moment onwards, Mexico became the country that started doing the dirty work.- Carolina Jimenez , Americas Deputy Director of Research at Amnesty International

"We have evidence that this is not an isolated case of racial profiling and detention of indigenous Mexicans. There are more." says Jimenez. At least 15 cases have been investigated by Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights.

"I think it is very clear that Mexico has a double discourse when it comes to migration. On the one hand, it has always demanded that the U.S. protect Mexicans living in the U.S. On the other hand, it does the contrary with the Central Americans crossing Mexico."