MEXICO CITY/BARCELONA, JUNE 19, 2019—Raids and mass arrests of groups of migrants near Mexico’s southern border are increasing in frequency, pushing people to travel clandestinely, driving them to use criminal networks, and preventing them from receiving medical care, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today.
In the past week, MSF teams in Coatzacoalcos and Tenosique have witnessed a number of mass arrests of migrants. One raid in Coatzacoalcos took place as an MSF team was providing migrants with medical and psychological care and handing out hygiene kits. As a result of the raids, migrants are increasingly avoiding places where they might be visible to police and detained—including places where basic medical services are available.
“We are already seeing the consequences of criminalizing migrants and asylum seekers and forcing them underground,” said Sergio Martín, MSF head of mission in Mexico. “Fewer people have come for medical consultations in recent days. The conclusion is obvious: people in need of medical services are not receiving them.”
Last week’s raids in Coatzacoalcos and Tenosique took place as the US announced a deal with Mexico to curb migration and increase enforcement measures in Mexico, with an emphasis on controlling the country’s southern border with Guatemala.
“People are now traveling clandestinely in small groups,” said Martín. “They are forced to travel along dangerous routes, preyed on by criminal elements, and without access to shelter or basic health services just when they need them most. Greater numbers of migrants are likely to resort to using smugglers, who are the ones who stand to benefit most from these repressive measures.”