Tuesday, April 18, 2006

'Undocumented Migrants' in Mexico Brutalized, Robbed by Officials

AP writer Mark Stevenson reports:

Undocumented Central American migrants complain much more about how they are treated by Mexican officials than about authorities on the U.S. side of the border, where migrants may resent being caught but often praise the professionalism of the agents scouring the desert for their trail. ...

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.

Maria Elena Gonzalez, who lives near the tracks, said female migrants often complain about abusive police.

"They force them to strip, supposedly to search them, but the purpose is to sexually abuse them," she said.

Others said they had seen migrants beaten to death by police, their bodies left near the railway tracks to make it look as if they had fallen from a train.

The Mexican government acknowledges that many federal, state and local officials are on the take from the people-smugglers who move hundreds of thousands of Central Americans north, and that migrants are particularly vulnerable to abuse by corrupt police. ...

In the United States, mostly Mexican immigrants have staged rallies pressuring Congress to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants rather than making them felons and deputizing police to deport them. The Mexican government has spoken out in support of the immigrants' cause.

While Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal said Monday that "Mexico is a country with a clear, defined and generous policy toward migrants," the nation of 105 million has legalized only 15,000 immigrants in the past five years, and many undocumented migrants who are detained are deported.

Although Mexico objects to U.S. authorities detaining Mexican immigrants, police and soldiers usually cause the most trouble for migrants in Mexico, even though they aren't technically authorized to enforce immigration laws.

And while Mexicans denounce the criminalization of their citizens living without papers in the United States, Mexican law classifies undocumented immigration as a felony punishable by up to two years in prison, although deportation is more common.

(Mug tip to Wizbang.)


Related: My Mexican Immigration Law post and Some Random Illegal Thoughts.

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