July 18, 2024

Source: 2023 in Review: Around 6,000 migrants waiting at Mexico border to enter US. Youtube: https://youtu.be/Aoxqvq1o_vU?si=E9Vlu8n5mX-UZiNG&t=56

Article originally published in MLToday

The migration of people from different parts of the world to the U.S. is going through a crisis. Migration to the US is not a new phenomenon, but a historical phenomenon that has grown in numbers. This migratory flow crosses Mexico as a transit country and has its cause mainly in the need of migrants to seek better living conditions, needs which are not being resolved in their countries of origin, and that in essence are related to the capitalist crisis that brings economic hardship, imperialist wars, unemployment, precarious jobs, and lack of access to basic rights such as health, education and physical security.

Migrants are a labor force expelled by the countries of origin and absorbed by countries that need that labor force. Depending on labor supply and demand, migration policies are adjusted to restrict or facilitate migratory flows. A very clear example of this is an important episode in the history of Mexico-US migration, the Bracero Program[1], which served to regulate the flow of more than 10 million workers and thus met the needs of the two nations, Mexico as the sending country and the US as the receiving country.

Post-revolutionary Mexico (after 1920) had a surplus labor force; it could not employ millions of workers. On the contrary, the United States labor supply was depleted due to the massive transfer of men to the front lines of World War II  (1941-45) and the effects of the Great Depression (1929-39). The U.S. needed that labor force to grow crops and maintain the railroads, a need that was met through the importation of labor. This situation worsened years later with the entry into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 and the reforms to the agrarian law in those years, which opened the door to the privatization of the ejidos [an ejido is a piece of land farmed communally under a system supported by the Mexican government].

The current administration headed by Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador has been known for maintaining a demagogic discourse on issues related to immigration policy. However, in practice it carries out an anti-immigrant policy. Among its official migratory actions, the Mexican government declared through a joint communiqué between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior, published in 2019, that its migratory policy is “new”, “sovereign” and that it “seeks to preserve the rights of migrants”. However, so far in 2023 Mexico has deported 788,000 migrants.

The Mexican government has also signed the Comprehensive Development Plan of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) , which “seeks to promote the economic development of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in order to reduce the structural causes that provoke migratory flows”. Likewise, the Mexican government affirms that, in view of the US implementation of Article 235 of its Immigration and Nationality Law[2], for humanitarian reasons, it has authorized the entry of asylum seekers to the US, while their hearing on the other side of the border takes place, since to deport them is to deny them the right to asylum.

It is worth mentioning that in 2023 a new immigration agreement between Mexico and the U.S. was signed, in which Mexico commits to the expulsion and return of migrants through northern border cities, deportation to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Brazil and Colombia, as well as increased control operations on highways and train stations.

In the same vein, in 2018 the Mexican government signed the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which seeks that States “respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of all migrants regardless of their migratory status.” It also endorses the principles of non-refoulement [non-suppression] and non-discrimination, and seeks to eradicate all forms of discrimination, such as racism and xenophobia.

However, this official discourse embodied in the inter-imperialist agreements mentioned above contrasts with reality. Mexican immigration authorities do detain migrants and also commit extortion against them, demanding money from them in exchange for not destroying their immigration documents and not deporting them, even while they are in the offices of the Mexico City International Airport and on board units of the National Institute of Migration. There are reports of complicity between officials and the cartels, who share information to violate the rights of tens of thousands of migrant families.

Most of them are Central American migrants who are victims of extortion and kidnapping in Mexico while they wait for their asylum applications to be processed in the United States. Former President Trump’s controversial immigration program is responsible since 2019 for leaving tens of thousands of migrants in northern Mexico insecure and at the mercy of organized crime.

In 2019 Lopez-Obrador agreed, with then President Trump, that Mexico would stop the growing illegal immigration, under the threat of imposing 5% tariffs on all Mexican products exported to the U.S., and of not continuing the Free Trade Agreement. Thus extending this inter-imperialist agreement but now under the name of USMCA, the treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada, a political-economic alliance against Chinese capital, with Lopez-Obrador’s commitment to deliver to Biden all the labor, lithium, gas and gasoline that is needed for imperialist war.

The current US president, Biden, has given continuity to Trump’s immigration policy, committing Mexico to act as an extension of the border patrol to act as a great containment wall and stop the arrival of more migrants to US territory. The Lopez-Obrador-Biden anti-immigrant policy is responsible for the death of 38 migrants at the Ciudad Juarez migrant station in March of last year.

On the other hand, the repressive containment policy applied by agents of the National Migration Institute and the National Guard on the border with Guatemala, where many Central American migrants choose to enter the country, is evident. The same Migration Policy Unit of the Ministry of the Interior has accepted that Mexican authorities detained more than 252,000 migrants in 2021 and deported more than 100,000.

Another example of anti-immigrant actions are the confrontations between the National Guard and migrant caravans in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, when they shot at a van with migrants, leaving four wounded and one dead. In Tapachula in 2021 there were at least 63,000 migrants stranded waiting for shelter. In this same city some 100 Haitian and African migrants threw sticks and stones at the National Guard that was guarding the offices of the National Migration Institute, an action taken to express their annoyance at the slowness of the procedures to obtain humanitarian visitor cards [3] and to be able to leave Tapachula, known by them as the “great migratory prison.”

The Lopez-Obrador administration is responsible for the violence exercised against migrants by federal immigration authorities, who are also accomplices of the criminal groups that have seen a gold mine in migrants. It is no secret that organized crime is dedicated not only to drug trafficking, but also to other types of economically profitable crimes such as migrant smuggling. The current Lopez-Obrador administration is also responsible for the fact that migrants throughout the national territory are victims of robbery, rape, kidnapping, murder, trafficking, prostitution, forced labor, murder, forced recruitment into the ranks of crime, even ending up becoming victimizers.

The Communist Party of Mexico holds the capitalist State and the capitalist system responsible, reiterates that the way out of this barbarism is the struggle for socialism, internationalism and total solidarity with migrant workers regardless of their nationality. Likewise, the Communist Party of Mexico pronounces itself in favor of the right of migrants to refuge and to enjoy the same rights as all Mexican workers.


[1] The Bracero Program was developed between 1942 and 1964, and was marked by a series of diplomatic agreements to regulate the temporary work of Mexicans in the United States. The “bracero” was a person who worked mainly with his arms in agricultural tasks. This program regulated a migratory pattern characterized by the movement of single men, many of them coming from rural areas to work temporarily, under a documentation scheme based on a contract endorsed by both nations.

[2] Section 235 of the Immigration and Nationality Act deals with the expedited removal of inadmissible aliens who arrive in the country referred for hearings. It allows third country asylum seekers entering from Mexican territory to return to Mexico while awaiting the resolution of their immigration proceedings in the U.S.

[3] The visitor’s card for humanitarian reasons is a document to which every migrant is entitled, it is issued by the National Migration Institute. It is a free procedure, which allows the regularization of the stay in Mexico, it is usually valid for one year and implies a work permit.