After years of paying lip service to the concept of policing the border, Mexico has finally been forced to clamp down on the flow of foreigners reaching the US southern border by hitching rides on freight trains.
Days after President Trump reached a deal in which the U.S. would hold off on imposing punishing tariffs against Mexican imports if Mexico does more to prevent people from traveling through the country, Mexican military were deployed throughout the country to apprehend migrants headed to the United States.
The Mexican military have now officially begun targeting foreigners who have hitched rides aboard a freight train known as “The Beast” to get to the U.S.-Mexico border, local media reported Sunday.
Mexican National Guard held up the “La Bestia” train in an unpopulated area near Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, a city north of the Mexico-Guatemala border, where migrants have been crossing into the country.
Washington Examiner report: The operation marked the first of its kind since López Obrador and President Trump reached a deal late Friday, in which the U.S. would hold off on tariffs against Mexican imports if the government did more to prevent people from traveling through the country.
“The National Guard was placed on one side, moment that was taken advantage of by more than 200 migrants who got off the train and fled,” Nataniel Hernández Núñe, director of the Digna Ochoa Human Rights Center, told El Universal.
Many “hid in the bush, so only 25 were arrested,” Hernández said.
The train was headed to Oaxaca, a state located northwest of Chiapas. From there, the train riders would have hopped onto another freight train.
Mexico’s Institute for National Migration has previously said migrants who illegally entered the country and do not have temporary visas allowing them to travel through will be deported because they are in the country without legal permission.
Migrants have used freight trains at a lower rate in recent years compared to how popular it was around 2014 and 2015, when unaccompanied children and families began climbing aboard the trains to avoid paying smugglers to get them to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mexican authorities in 2014 declared it illegal to ride on the trains when the practice became widespread. Until this weekend, the move has gone largely unenforced.