As Mexican authorities crack down on undocumented migrants entering the country from Central America, the government’s immigration agency is going through internal turmoil because of mass firings and restructuring.
The National Immigration Institute (INM) has fired around 500 agents for corruption since the beginning of the year, when Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero announced the agency would be “purged” because of reports of extortion of migrants.
INM Head Francisco Garduño, who took office on June 14, says he will not tolerate corruption in the ranks of the INM.
“We’re going to clean up, from top to bottom and side to side,” he told the newspaper Reforma.
Agents have been fired for offences including accepting money in exchange for immigration documents, using the threat of deportation to extort migrants and being involved in human smuggling networks.
Garduño said the INM is preparing an official report about the firings, which he promised will contain “surprises.”
Since April, the INM has been working to hire new agents. But the new hires — 239, according to Garduño — have been insufficient to cover the gap left by the purge and the increased demand for agents because of the migrant crisis. Garduño said the INM’s goal is to have 3,000 agents, more than twice the 1,400 it currently has.
To help cover that gap, the agency made an agreement with the Federal Police to temporarily commission 600 Federal Police officers to work in immigration enforcement.
The Federal Police will disappear at the end of the month and the majority of its members will be incorporated into the National Guard. But around 600 officers who did not meet the physical requirements for the National Guard have been commissioned to work for the INM.