The number of Central American migrants seeking asylum in Mexico has jumped 150% since President Donald Trump won the election. According to Mexican immigration authorities, the country received more than 5,400 asylum applications between Nov. 2016 and Mar. 2017, which marks a 150% rise from last year’s levels.
Central Americans Stopping in Mexico
The number of arrests on the U.S.-Mexico border has slipped 4% during the same period as Trump’s promised crackdown on illegal immigration has deterred Central American refugees from entering the U.S.
Many of the refugees that now seek asylum in Mexico come from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – three states in Central America ravaged by poverty, civil war, and gang violence.
The report also shows that the number of families coming from these three states to the U.S. has dropped over the last five months to only 1,000 in March, which represents a 93% drop from last year.
Trump ran his campaign on pledges to crack down on illegal immigration and deport illegals convicted of violent crimes. He also pledged to build a physical wall along the country’s southern border. Many Central Americans are concerned that they might be sent back home which for many is a death sentence.
Fewer immigrants from Central America are now entering Mexico. In January and February, Mexican border patrol agents arrested less than 15,000 people, which is a 27% decrease from last year’s levels.
The phenomenon may be due to Trump or the fact that people no longer can afford the higher fees smugglers now demand. The reduced number of arrests could also be tied to Mexico’s pledge to stop illegal immigration to win Washington’s favor.
Experts believe that it is too early to give credit to Trump for the surge in asylum applications in Mexico. It is worth noting that even before Trump’s victory, many people in the said three countries preferred Mexico over America to escape violence, poverty, and impunity because crossing the U.S. Mexican border poses many risks.
Mexico a Friendlier Destination for Asylum Seekers
In recent years, the number of asylum seekers in Mexico has steadily climbed from 3,500 in 2015 to more than 8,700 in 2016. Local authorities refused to credit Trump for the uptick. They said it would be a good idea to conduct surveys among applicants on the matter.
Mexico estimates that the number of asylum applications could jump to 22,500 by the end of the year. Experts claim that there are other factors at play, besides Trump. For instance, Mexico’s joint work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees may have driven the numbers up.
The UNHCR confirmed that improved conditions for asylum seekers in Mexico along with efforts to reunite families have largely contributed to the recent surge.
A March report revealed that the number of illegals trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border has plummeted 40% since Trump was sworn in. Around 840 immigrants every day were sent back home in February at the border, a sharp drop from a month prior when 1,370 people per day were caught trying to fraudulently enter the States. U.S. authorities think Trump’s crack down on sanctuary cities and the pledges to deport illegals and build a border wall deterred undocumented immigrants from making the risky journey to the U.S.
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