May 18, 2022

Mexican border agents resign amid influx of ‘more violent’ migrants

Border agents in Mexico are tired of quitting their jobs – and say if the US lifts Title 42, things will only get worse.

“The work has doubled and even tripled for us. Some weeks we don’t have days off. We work double shifts for the same pay and are sent from one end of the country to the other with less money for our expenses that we have to pay upfront,” said an officer, Jorge, who s spoke to The Post on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

No statistics are available on the number of agents who left the Mexican immigration forces. But Jorge said that, in one team alone, at least half of the 30 officers have quit in the past two years.

“It’s a national phenomenon,” he said.

Jorge is an officer of the National Migration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración), Mexico’s version of the US Border Patrol, which has become an ever-growing first response force against desperate undocumented migrants around the world – Central America and the South, but also certain countries in the Caribbean and even Africa, Europe and Russia — which dream of reaching American cities.

Being underpaid and working longer hours also made the job harder, officers said.
AFP via Getty Images

Sources said officers, already beleaguered by a heavy workload and overburdened by working double shifts, are regularly sent from their posts in northern border towns to the southernmost regions of Mexico, to help the understaffed and tired guards there with the influx of immigrants coming in – mostly via Guatemala.

And there is nothing easy. Recently, officers have been attacked and injured in bloody fights with angry crowds of migrants.

It’s enough to make them want to give up.

“My family is suffering. I barely see my kids,” said Jorge, who is primarily based on the California border. “It’s a hopeless situation and it looks like there’s no way out.”

With fewer officers, Mexican immigration officers have to travel to different parts of the country as needed.
With fewer officers, Mexican immigration officers have to travel to different parts of the country as needed.
Getty Images

Two other former immigration officers contacted by The Post second Jorge’s
allegations, adding that officers are increasingly being placed in dangerous situations with violence
immigrants.

Juan, a former officer who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, said the high risk and low pay just wasn’t worth it for him.

“I got a job as a truck driver,” he told the Post. “I am far from home in this job. But it’s not that dangerous. »

Unlike the US Border Patrol, Mexican immigration officers do not carry firearms. On at least one occasion, Jorge said, he and others were attacked by migrants armed with rocks; in another case, human traffickers in the southern state of Oaxaca shot at their patrol car.

Immigrants arrive in Mexico from all over South America and the Caribbean, and even from Europe, en route to the United States.
Immigrants arrive in Mexico from all over South and Central America and the Caribbean, and even from Europe, en route to the United States.
PA

“They sprayed the vehicle with bullets, with the officers inside. Some local Mexican taxi drivers turn to human trafficking. They are called “polleros,” Jorge said. “It is [also] a war between immigrants [officers] and the local population.

In addition to dealing with violence, he added, officers are severely underpaid.

Jorge, who has been with the force for more than seven years, said he earns 5,800 pesos every two weeks (about $288) and about 150,800 pesos a year ($7,509). By contrast, U.S. Border Patrol agents start with an annual salary of around $70,234, according to the official Customs and Border Patrol website.

Jorge and the other officers have complained that there is little room for career advancement and work allowances for meals and lodging were cut seven years ago – by 4,200 pesos ($209) for four and a half days of deployment work at 3,045 pesos ($152). Jorge added that officers have to pay their expenses up front and wait weeks for reimbursement.

There has recently been an outbreak of violence on Mexico's southern border.
There has recently been an outbreak of violence on Mexico’s southern border.
Reuters

National Migration Institute spokeswoman Adriana Angeles said she questioned the
allegations since no formal complaint had been filed and officials could not comment on the matter.

Jorge expects the lifting of Title 42 – a Trump administration order allowing immediate deportation that has seen 2 million cross-border commuters deported – could lead to a growing number of illegal immigrants trying to enter the country by this spring.

“It already makes things worse for us. These new immigrants coming in are more violent,” Jorge said. “They are bigger than us. We Mexicans are smaller. We need at least two officers to detain them. We cannot handle them individually.

The CDC announced that Title 42, which was put in place to help control the spread of the pandemic, will end on May 23.

Mexican immigration officers earn around US$7,500 a year, one said, compared to entry-level US border patrol officers who earn $70,234.
Mexican immigration officers earn around US$7,500 a year, one said, compared to a salary of US$70,234 for entry-level US Border Patrol agents.
AFP via Getty Images

Already, hundreds of immigrants have joined marches and caravans heading north through Mexico, while others are camping at numerous entry points along the border.

Two weeks ago, immigration officials and armed Mexican National Guard soldiers clashed violently with around 500 undocumented migrants – from Venezuela, Central America, Cuba and other countries – just in outside of Tapachula, a Mexican town near the Guatemalan border.

Migrants used a white wooden cross as a battering ram to crash into rioters
government forces.

The migrants, who had been living in Tapachula awaiting their asylum applications, joined a caravan that was to march to Mexico City and later to US border towns to seek asylum.

The lifting of Title 42 could lead to increasing numbers of illegal immigrants attempting to enter the country by this spring.
The lifting of Title 42 could lead to increasing numbers of illegal immigrants attempting to enter the country by this spring.
APE

In the Mexican state of Puebla, immigration officials reportedly ran over two migrants who were in a caravan en route to Mexico City, according to local newspaper reports. The migrants responded by beating several cops and immigration officers, punching one in the head and leaving him on the side of the road bleeding.

Migrants and Mexican immigration officials have repeatedly clashed in bloody fights. In a 2019 incident in Tapachula, a group of migrants surrounded and attacked officers, including at least one female officer, who desperately tried to hide inside a government vehicle in the midst of a rain of stones.

And in March, a group of Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and Cuban migrants waiting for visas in Tapachula broke down a metal door and attacked officers inside an immigration station, allegedly because a migrant had been beaten at inside the offices.

US officials say MS-13s infiltrated caravans heading for the US border.
US officials say MS-13 infiltrated caravans heading for the US border.
APE

According to the US Department of Justice, the Transnational Anti-Gang Units (TAGs) — a
international group created by the FBI to work with Salvadoran law enforcement,
Guatemala and Honduras – detected that members of the MS-13 gang had infiltrated migrant caravans.

“TAG agents assisted CBP in identifying possible gang members using the trailer to enter the United States in connection with asylum claims. TAG agents supported US law enforcement by: participating in 136 interviews; identify 30 people with gang affiliations, identify 47 people with criminal backgrounds; and identifying three people with arrest warrants in Honduras and El Salvador for attempted homicide, aggravated robbery and terrorist activity,” according to “Full-Scale Response: A Report on the Department of Justice’s Efforts to Combat MS-13 from 2016-2020.”

Jorge said his two children always ask him when he’s coming home. His family is his priority and he is already looking for another job.

“As soon as I find something else, I leave,” he said.