CBP chief sees stagnant Mexican economy driving migrants to US

CBP chief sees stagnant Mexican economy driving migrants to US
© Aaron Schwartz

Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said Tuesday that he believes Mexico’s stagnant economy could be pushing migrants north to the United States in search of work.

The number of Mexicans apprehended on the southern border increased 10.6 percent in January from the previous month, to 16,116. Mexican nationals represented about 61 percent of apprehended migrants last month, and the majority were single adults.

The January figures mark a significant increase from the percentage of Mexican migrants last year. When border apprehensions hit a 13-year high in May, the majority of migrants were from Northern Triangle countries: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. 

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“Just like we had pull-push factors from the Northern Triangle countries, those same push-pull factors exist from Mexico, so they’re the same,” Morgan told reporters at a press conference.

Morgan said the people smuggling migrants into the United States could be taking advantage of the financial hardships in Mexico "to really drive and convince and trick and lie to these individuals that they’re hoping for prosperity.” Morgan said. “ ‘Just trust us. We’ll get to the United States and everything will be fine.’ ”

Mexico's gross domestic product was little changed in the fourth quarter, while the U.S. economy grew 2.1 percent.

Customs and Border Protection apprehended 29,200 people at the border in January, an 11 percent decrease from December and the eighth straight month of decline. Another 7,479 were turned away and deemed "inadmissible" because of criminal or terrorist history, drug abuse, medical problems or other characteristics. 

Morgan said that more than 1,000 criminal undocumented immigrants have been apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol in the first few months of the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.

“Not everyone trying to illegally enter the United States is good. Not everyone trying to enter the United States is vulnerable,” Morgan said. “In fact, there are some very dangerous people trying to enter this country every single day.”