New Migration Operation Launched Against Human TraffickersBy Paloma Duran | Wed, 06/15/2022 - 12:04
The US government has launched an aggressive migration operation to disrupt human trafficking networks in Latin America and stem the arrival of migrants at the Mexico-US border. The US Department of Homeland Security noted that the new operation is being carried out not only by US officials, but also by Mexican elements.
US Secretary of National Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced the launch of the Sting Operation, which consists of deploying hundreds of officials in Latin America and investing US$50 million to reduce the flow of migrants, especially the caravans that have grown more frequent during 2022.
So far, under the new Sting Operation, US authorities have carried out 20,000 disruptive actions, including arrests, prosecutions, asset seizures and criminal investigations. In the last 2 months, around 2,000 traffickers have been arrested, which represents a 600 percent increase in actions against the criminals compared to previous years.
During the Summit of the Americas, the US government highlighted that, although President López Obrador did not attend, Mexico is actively participating in the development of a regional migration plan. In addition, it emphasized that Mexico is committed to address the current situation on the US-Mexico border.
Recently, the Mexican government announced that it has reinforced efforts to deal with the growing arrival of migrants in the country and, above all, to protect migrants from smugglers and traffickers. For instance, this week Mexican immigration authorities stopped a caravan of 7,000 people heading to the US, one of the largest in recent years. Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM) highlighted that after negotiating with the spokesmen of the caravan, they were granted a migratory document that allows them to remain in Mexico. In a statement, the INM pointed out that "with the agreements reached thanks to our talks, migrants are prevented from becoming victims of criminals dedicated to human trafficking, or traffickers who expose migrants to unsafe conditions."
Despite the Mexican government's announcement that it would strengthen its efforts to support and protect migrants, NGOs have accused Mexico of cultivating an increasingly militarized migration policy and of failing to help migrants who became victim to involuntary disappearances. On June 6, 2022, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report saying that migrants in Mexico face abuse and fight an uphill battle to obtain protection or permits. The NGO highlighted that all these factors might make Mexico more dangerous than the places from which the migrants and asylum seekers flee.
The situation for Mexico and the US is expected to remain complicated for the rest of 2022, especially because the announcement of a possible lifting of migration policies and the decline in COVID-19 contagions are expected to increase migration. According to US government data, 234,088 migrants arrived at the Mexico-US border in April 2022, up from 221,000 arrivals in March of this year. In May, 7,400 migrants arrived in the US each day.