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Mexico Treats Illegal Aliens Very Harshly

From the archives of the Associated Press:

Central American migrants try to climb on a train headed north on their way to the United States.

Mexico wants migrant rights in U.S., but is harsh to undocumented Central Americans

By Mark Stevenson
April 18, 2006

TULTITLAN, Mexico – While migrants in the United States have held tremendous demonstrations in recent weeks, the hundreds of thousands of undocumented Central American migrants in Mexico suffer mostly in silence.

Considered felons by the Mexican government, they fear detention, rape and robbery. Police and soldiers hunt them down at railroads, bus stations and fleabag hotels. Sometimes they are deported; more often officers simply take all their money.

While Mexico demands the humane treatment of its citizens who migrate to the U.S., it appears to be unable to guarantee similar rights for Central American migrants to this country.

The level of brutality Central American migrants face in Mexico was underscored on Monday, when police conducting a raid for undocumented migrants near a rail yard in central Mexico state shot to death a local man, apparently because his dark skin and work clothes made him look like a Central American.

Virginia Sanchez, a housewife who lives near the railroad tracks that carry Central Americans north to the U.S. border, say shootings like the one Monday in her town of Tultitlan are not infrequent.

“In the night, you hear the gunshots, and it’s the judiciales (state police) chasing the migrants,” Sanchez said. “It’s not fair to kill these people. It’s not fair in the United States and it’s not fair here.”

Neighbor Maria Elena Gonzalez said police sexually abuse female migrants. “The migrants have told us that they detain them just to rape them. They force them to strip, supposedly to search them, but the purpose is to sexually abuse them.”

Guatemalan immigrant Carlos Lopez, 28, who lay hidden in a nearby field waiting for a train heading north to the U.S.border, said Mexican police routinely rob and release migrants.

“If you’re carrying any money, they take it from you – federal, state, local police, all of them,” Lopez said. In the 15 days he had been traveling across Mexico, Lopez, a farm laborer, recounted how he had been shaken down from the minute he stepped into the country.

“The soldiers were there as soon as we crossed the river,” he said. They said, ‘You can’t cross … unless you leave something for us.’”

Sitting nearby, Jose Ramos, 18, of El Salvador, said the extortion occurs at every stop in Mexico, until migrants are left penniless and begging for food.

“If you’re on a bus, they pull you off and search your pockets and if you have any money, they keep it and say, ‘Get out of here,’” Ramos said of police in southern Chiapas state.

Others told of migrants beaten to death by police, their bodies left near the railway tracks to make it look as if they had fallen from the trains.

Central Americans, as columnist Gustavo Arellano of the Orange County Weekly pointed out, “are the Mexicans of Mexico.”

Migrants generally acknowledge that Mexican federal immigration agents are among the more honest of the country’s law enforcement officers. The problem is, most migrants here usually are detained by police or soldiers, who technically aren’t authorized to enforce immigration laws. Meanwhile, Mexico objects to the United States using army and local police forces to detain migrants.

Among other ironies: Mexican-migrant activists in the United States hotly oppose a congressional bill that would make undocumented immigration in the U.S. a felony – but Mexican law already classifies it as such. The crime is punishable by up to two years in prison, although deportation is more common.

The number of undocumented migrants detained in Mexico almost doubled from 2002, when 138,061 were caught, and 2005, when the number reached 240,269. Guatemalans represent 42 percent of those detained and Hondurans, 32.6 percent. Salvadorans account for most of the rest.

While pressing the United States for the legalization of millions of its citizens in the United States, Mexico has done little to legalize its own migrants: With a population of about 105 million, the government granted legalization to only about 15,000 migrants in the past five years.

Like the United States, Mexico is becoming reliant on immigrant labor. In a speech on immigration issues presented last year, Magdalena Carral, then-director of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, noted that Central American migrants were not just passing through on their way to the U.S., but were also staying and looking for work in southern Mexico.

“There are sectors of the Mexican economy which face labor shortages, but because there is no formal or efficient method (for work visas), they have to do it as undocumented workers,” Carral said.

Immigrants here account for only 0.5 percent of the population – far less than the 12 percent in the United States – so there is little public sentiment against the undocumented as there is in the U.S.

Compared with many of those demonstrating for citizenship rights in the United States, Lopez, who was waiting for the train, is poorer – he comes from an area of Guatemala where the average wage is often less than US$1 (euro.82) per day – and he doesn’t plan to stay here forever.

“I think it would be good if you could work for two years, save up a little, and return to your own country with enough money to build a house,” Lopez said, adding that his dream house would “have four walls and nobody coming in at the end of the month telling you to pay the rent.”

Jose Luis Soberanes, president of Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission, issued a report in December documenting many of the abuses of migrant rights.

“One of the saddest national failings on immigration issues,” Soberanes said, “is the contradiction in demanding that the North (the United States) respect migrants’ rights, which we are not capable of guaranteeing in the South.”

Apparently, ‘me casa es NOT su casa’ in Mexico.

Isn’t it odd how seldom our watchdog media mentions this.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, April 28th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Mexico Treats Illegal Aliens Very Harshly”

  1. imnewatthis says:

    Does anyone ever confront our politicians with this information? On camera?
    What’s all the hand-wringing about people being asked for their papers? My husband says cops used to stop him on the street and ask him to produce his draft card in the early seventies.

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