On March 23 the Mexican government announced it had arrested 44 people — including 32 current and former officials of Mexico’s immigration authority and 10 current and former border policemen — for alleged involvement in smuggling aliens into the United States.
High-ranking Mexican officials said the crackdown netted the largest number of Mexican government employees arrested so far for alien smuggling.
“The government’s position is clear: The traffic of human beings is shameful and intolerable,” said Mexican Atty. Gen. Rafael Macedo de la Concha at a March 23 Mexico City press conference. The arrested officials, he said, had aided smugglers by giving “information about police raids,” releasing “captured migrants,” and accepting “falsified documents.” The officials arrested were from 12 Mexican states and included seven immigration officials in Juarez. Twenty-six of those arrested were current officials of the National Immigration Institute, Mexico’s border enforcement agency. Another six of those arrested were former officials of this agency. Warrants were also issued for 15 additional suspects.
Miguel Monterrubio, press secretary for the Mexican embassy in Washington, D.C., said last week he could not add anything that was not presented at the March 23 press conference. “I don’t have any information on anything new that’s happened since then,” he said.
Mexico has asked the U.S. government to examine whether U.S. officials were working with the corrupt Mexican officials. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Garrison Courtney said he could not provide any information about any such investigation.
The Mexican anti-corruption effort comes as the United States is implementing new border control initiatives, particularly in Arizona, which has received a flood of illegal border crossers since the U.S. Border Patrol tightened enforcement in California and Texas. Another plan to be launched this month by the Administration for Children and Families of the Health and Human Services Department will focus on the plight of smuggled immigrants kept in slavery-like conditions in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Phoenix.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), said the Mexican crackdown is not unusual and won’t amount to much given the extent of corruption in Mexico. “This happens all the time,” he said of the arrests. “We’re never going to be able to rely on the Mexican government in limiting illegal immigration into the United States.”
These arrests did not seem to be aimed at stopping Mexican nationals themselves from illegally entering the United States. In fact, Mexican officials said March 23 that most of the people smuggled by those arrested were “Central Americans,” “Asians,” and other non-Mexicans.
But, Krikorian said, controlling the flow of illegal aliens into the United States is “not their job, it’s our job.” He also noted that corruption in Mexico could affect Bush’s plan to allow the unlimited importation of guest workers. “The last time we had this kind of a plan, workers had to bribe Mexican officials to get on the list to come here,” he said.