The Trump administration has announced that it will begin deporting Mexican asylum seekers to Guatemala, where they will face homelessness in a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world. Last year, Guatemala signed onto a deal with the United States to accept deportees from other countries, and the administration had sold it as a way to resettle refugees “closer to home.”
But this announcement demonstrates that this justification was simply a farce, as most Mexicans crossing the border live closer to the United States than Guatemala.The administration is apparently justifying the move by citing a major increase in Mexican arrivals. The New York Times states:
about 17,000 Mexicans were caught crossing between ports of entry in October, a 34 percent increase since July , according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Homeland Security Department has been searching for ways to stem the uptick for the past month.
But this excuse is also inaccurate. Border Patrol apprehensions of Mexicans crossing illegally have been roughly stable over the course of the year. They dipped down in July—as a result of the hotter weather—but in December, the most recent month available, Mexican numbers were lower than earlier in the year. Figure 1 shows the Mexican apprehensions by month since April 2019, when CBP started publishing monthly totals by country online.
Nor are Mexican arrivals particularly unusual on an annual basis. Here is the last decade of Mexican apprehensions by year. As it shows, Mexican apprehensions declined dramatically since 2010 from nearly 400,000 to 166,000 in 2019, and while 2019 was up from 2018, it came nowhere close to reversing these gains and was nothing like what the border has seen in terms of changes from Central America in 2019 (9 percent increase compared to a 172 percent increase).
The administration has absolutely no business deporting Mexicans to Guatemala using the extraordinary and already inhumane policies that it has implemented for Central Americans. The administration needs to channel these immigrants into legal avenues for entry, not forcibly remove them to a country that they do not know and do not want to go to.
Update 1/9/2020: This blog was updated to reflect apprehensions through December 2019.