Mexican authorities crack down on illegal migration

MEXICO (AP) – Authorities in Mexico are undertaking the largest crackdown in decades on illegal migration.

The move has decreased the flow of Central Americans trying to reach the United States. It’s also dramatically cut the number of child migrants and families along the perilous route.

In the southern state of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala, convoys of Mexican federal police and immigration agents search and patrol tracks of the infamous freight train known as the beast. Hauling migrants from the rail cars and sending them to deportation centers.

To avoid being detained, migrants hide in the woods, but that is also where criminals lurk.

“We are chased by the (Mexican) federal police, army, immigration (agents). Despite being on top of the train, we run away from them – that’s why we suffer so many accidents,” Salvadorian migrant Manuel Villalta said.

Many have apparently decided not to attempt the journey through Mexico at all since news of the raids and checkpoints, combined with stepped up efforts in the U.S. and among Central American governments, reached their communities.

“200, 300, 500 migrants used to get on top (of the train) here. Right now with ongoing raids, they’re not allowed to get on top (of the train) anymore,” Luis Fernando Martinez said.

American and Mexican officials say they are noticing the same drop-off all along the route.

The round-ups follow u-s requests for help from Mexico.

The U.S. government released data this month showing that the number of unaccompanied children and children travelling with a parent arrested along the southwest border of the U.S. in July was roughly 13,000, half what it had been in June.

Young men like William Martinez say they are the only ones able to evade capture.

“You don’t feel very safe (walking in the woods) but you have to travel that way because the road is full of migration agents. Imagine if they catch you there, they’ll deport you,” Martinez said.

It is unclear how long Mexico can or will sustain such a massive immigration operation.

Sealing off the border with Guatemala is neither physically possible nor politically popular.

For now though, the effort shows no sign of abating.

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