Over Half A Million Central Americans Entered Mexico Illegally In First Half Of 2019

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Over 500,000 thousand Central American migrants entered Mexico illegally during the first six months of 2019, revealing the extent of the immigration crisis.

Mexico Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero revealed that more than half a million Central American migrants have entered her country between January and June of this year, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. The vast majority of the migrants come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, a region in Central America known as the Northern Triangle.

The migration numbers for the first half of 2019 dwarf those for the entire years of 2017 and 2018. The Mexican government reported a total of 138,612 Central Americans entering the country illegally in 2018. There were only 93,486 illegal migrants from that region during 2017.

Most of the Central Americans passing though Mexico are attempting to reach the United States, where many of them then lodge an asylum claim. The White House is working with these Northern Triangle countries to try and reduce the flow of migrants emanating from their borders.

President Trump Speaks To Reporters In The Oval Office

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan and Interior Minister of Guatemala Enrique Degenhart signed a “safe third country” agreement as President Donald Trump looks on in the Oval Office July 26, 2019 (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Led by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, the Trump administration has been able to secure asylum deals with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras within the past few months. The agreements call on their governments to allow U.S.-bound migrants to seek instead protected status within their countries, reducing the number of migrants who ultimately reach the U.S.-Mexico border. The White House will, in turn, help them bolster their asylum capacities.

The asylum deals could not only help reduce migrant flows into the U.S., but also into Mexico. However, none of the three Central American governments have yet to implement them.

The Mexican government, for its part, has significantly ramped up its own immigration enforcement in the face of mounting pressure from Washington, D.C.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has deployed thousands of his National Guard troops across his country’s border. His government is allowing thousands of asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed in immigration courts, a policy known as Remain in Mexico. (RELATED: CBP Doles Out Contracts To Build Up To 65 Miles Of Border Wall)

The initiatives appear to be having an effect. Border Patrol agents encountered just over 64,000 illegal migrants on the U.S. southern border in August. The numbers were a sharp decline from May, where encounters reached a peak of more than 144,000.

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