AFP: Mexico cracks down at US border with 15,000 troops25 June 2019 | 01:56 | FOCUS News Agency
Under pressure from US President Donald Trump to slow the surge of Central Americans crossing the border, Mexico promised earlier this month to reinforce its southern border with 6,000 National Guardsmen, but had not previously disclosed the extent of the crackdown on its northern border.
"We have a total deployment, between the National Guard and army units, of 14,000, almost 15,000 men in the north of the country," Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said at a press conference alongside President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Asked whether those forces were detaining migrants to prevent them from crossing, Sandoval replied: "Yes."
"Given that (undocumented) migration is not a crime but rather an administrative violation, we simply detain them and turn them over to the authorities" at the National Migration Institute, he said.
The government has faced criticism for stopping migrants from crossing the US-Mexican border.
National Guardsmen and police have been patrolling the border in groups, detaining migrants who attempt to cross.
The policy is a shift from previous practice. The Mexican security forces have long detained undocumented migrants as they travel in the country, but had not typically stopped them from crossing the US border in the past.
The practice caused an outcry after an AFP photographer documented last week how heavily armed National Guardsmen in Ciudad Juarez forcefully stopped two women and a young girl from crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States.
In some cases, migrant families have been separated when some members manage to cross the border and others get detained on the Mexican side.
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