Sputnik: It was reported today that residents of Tijuana, Mexico organised a rally against the newly arrived caravan. How are Mexican officials dealing with the fact that Mexico has become a major route for illegal migrants?
Matthew Tragesser: Illegal immigration has certainly plagued Mexico. Last month, hundreds of Mexican federal forces were sent down to secure the Guatemala/Mexico border as the Central American migrant caravan aimed to cross into Ciudad Hidalgo forcefully. In order to reduce illegal immigration, the Mexican government has also recently offered asylum to nearly 2,000 migrants. While Mexico is a close friend of the United States, the Mexican government continues to be scrutinized by Trump administration officials for not pulling their weight in combating illegal immigration.
Sputnik: Mexico has been a major critic of Donald Trump's position on immigration. At the same time, Mexico has its own strict immigration laws. Is it possible to talk about double standards?
Matthew Tragesser: Contrary to popular belief, Mexico does have considerably strict immigration laws. In fact, in 2015, Mexico deported nearly twice as many Central Americans than the US did in the same year. It has also been disclosed from recent data that roughly only 1 out of 10 asylum seekers receive asylum in Mexico.
As you mentioned previously, recent reports indicate that the migrant caravans arriving in Tijuana this week have received hostility from residents and local officials, with the mayor of Tijuana describing the caravans as a "horde."
Sputnik: Do you think that the troops that were sent to the border have managed to achieve their primary goal and prevent migrants from illegally crossing into the US?
Matthew Tragesser: It is still early to see the ultimate effects the troops have had on preventing the migrant caravans from illegally crossing into the US. Certainly, their mere presence will deter migrants from crossing illegally, but their roles in providing logical support to Border Patrol Agents will ultimately enable the Border Patrol to apprehend more individuals and lighten their daily workloads. The troops have assisted in patching up porous sections of the border wall, have provided vehicle repairs, and have assisted with daily intelligence. Due to the Posse Comitatus Act, the troops do not have the ability to conduct law enforcement duties.
Sputnik: What do you think is going to happen with the promised "wall" after Democrats managed to win the House of Representatives?
Sputnik: Could Trump focus his re-election campaign on the immigration issue?
Matthew Tragesser: Absolutely. Immigration remains a top priority for American voters, competing with other core issues such as healthcare and the economy. Focusing on immigration reform helped President Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and enabled the Senate to gain additional seats in the most recent midterm elections. Until our asylum laws are fixed by Congress, more migrant caravans, such as the ones we are seeing now, will continue to make their way to the US border, ultimately giving Trump more leverage on this issue.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.