Friday, December 1, 2023

Mexico’s increasingly complicated immigration policy (dilemma)

President Lopez Obrador nimbly dealt with the issue of actual undocumented and would-be documented Mexican workers in the U.S. in last week’s teleconference with his counterpart President Biden.

In what was basically Bracero 2.0, he simply proposed reestablishing a 1950s regulated guest worker program, similar to that in today’s Canada which has apparently successfully put into effect inspection safeguards to prevent the abuses that eventually sank the original Bracero 1.0.

It was only a half policy, as AMLO seemingly punted on Mexico’s far thornier and different migration issue on its southern border with Guatemala.

There, chiefly in Chiapas’ second largest city of Tapachula, official population 321,000 (probably low), Mexico is confronted with the unexpected and largely unwelcome arrival of an estimated (probably high) 70,000 would-be transients aiming for the U.S.

From Africa.

To visit the densely packed Little Africa camp literally on the doorstep of immigration headquarters is to encounter universal frustration with the mañana approach of the bureaucracy to issuing the temporary resident ID sought as a key first step in legally proceeding north.

On my most recent of several visits, the day’s scorecard was new petitions received 5, old petitions approved 0. There was the occasional “activist” and other usual suspects such as the no-doubt well-meaning NGO distributing incomprehensible flow charts titled “Path to U.S. citizenship,” in English yet.

Predominantly from west and south Africa — Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Mauretania — almost all were there at the end of an unbelievable but at the same time credibly related odyssey of about six months of hedge-hopping and hiding, from Ghana through Colombia, crossing the infamous and “impenetrable” Darien Gap, and finally wading or inner-tube rafting across the shallow border river separating Guatemala from Mexico.

So AMLO, how about the southern border crisis?

Carlisle Johnson writes from his home in Guatemala.

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