Can Mexico be an Honest Broker With Refugees?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan says he wants a “safe third country” agreement to ensure that migrants passing through Mexico are required to request asylum there first.

If newly elected President Manuel Lopez Obrador signs on, would such an agreement be worth the paper it’s printed on?

Lopez Obrador campaigned on a pledge to revamp his nation’s “passive role on immigration.” His new interior minister, Olga Sánchez Cordero, has vowed to make Mexico “a place of sanctuary” for refugees.

This would be a dramatic turnaround from Mexico’s typical handling of Central American migrants – waving them through to the U.S. and exposing them to a gantlet of abuse and depredations along the way.

Indeed, little in Mexico’s performance – marked by rampant corruption and routine abandonment of the rule of law — points to reform. Accepting and enforcing a binding agreement on refugees seems a stretch.

Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country that has signed the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, and to remain there until authorities have assessed their claim.

Mexico signed the refugee convention (49 years later) and in 2010, the U.N. High Commission on Refugees hailed the country’s approval of the Law on Refugees and Complementary Protection.

“This is a breakthrough piece of legislation that significantly advances international protection practices in Mexico, and for Latin America as a whole,” enthused the U.N. High Commissioner, doing his best imitation of Neville Chamberlain’s infamous “Peace in Our Time” declaration.

The situation in Mexico has only deteriorated.

Like Donald Trump, Lopez Obrador is a disruptor and may do things his predecessors have not. If he does make an effort, the Mexican judicial system may have an easier time turning around economic migrants posing as asylum seekers.

On the other hand, rooting out corruption and crime in Mexico will not be an easy task, and having been granted asylum in Mexico, many migrants (after coming to the conclusion that Mexico is not much better than the countries they left) might just use that as an opportunity to cross into the United States when the opportunity presents itself.

The arrest of two Mexican nationals last week shows how criminal behavior is deeply embedded in the country’s ruling class. The cousin of a Lopez Obrador transition team official (also governor of the crime-ridden border state of Tamaulipas) was caught trying to fly out of San Antonio with $900,000 in drug money. Rafael Gabriel Martinez Leal told Homeland Security agents he smuggled $1 million of narcotics proceeds a week to Mexico. Drug- and human-trafficking corridors are often one and the same.

Amid the ongoing crisis south of our border, McAleenan and the Trump administration are right to pursue a refugee agreement with Mexico — and to expect Lopez Obrador to live up to his lofty humanitarian agenda.

Likewise, the U.S. Congress must do its part to stanch the migrant tide by enacting strict immigration laws in the best interest of the United States.

“It’s a crisis and our legal framework [is]inviting it,” McAleenan observed. He’s right about that, too.

About Author



  1. avatar
    AlAlfred Kneer on

    The first thing that must be done , is to build the wall. without a secure border any kind of immigration reform is useless. If the wall cannot be built, our military should be stationed along the border. ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION MUST BE STOPPED. The Senator from NY must be mentally retarted to succest abolishing ICE. Illegal immigration, ifnot stopped, will destroy the United States as we know it.

  2. avatar

    Our charming neighbor to the South will continue to dump its problems on the Dumb Gringo! As Mexico’s population has exploded from approx 30 million in the 1960’s to over four times that number now, they’ve used “El Norte” as their economic and social safety valve. If the white Elite’s in Mexico don’t even want their own citizens, what makes you think they’ll welcome the even more poorly educated and low skilled coming from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador? Many of Mexico’s indigenous residents in the remote southern states don’t even speak Spanish; I’m sure that goes double for the backwaters of Central America. So forget about putting their bambino’s in ‘bilingual’ education classes!

  3. avatar

    The embrace of the Abolish ICE mantra is hardly the “fringe” position that so many want to portray it as. NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is the latest to sign on. In fact, she says that’s “the first thing” Democrats should do if they take over Congress. Nice to have your priorities in order. Just another of the endless reminders that the Democrats think everything in this country should cater to illegals. And the reason is always “the families”. But if that were TRULY the reason they would just say we need to change that policy. It’s always abolish ICE without making one suggestion of what will succeed it and what those officials would be permitted to do as far as enforcing the laws. Because what they want is catch and release and that means open borders.

    Looks pretty clear that the Obama FBI used Carter Page as an excuse to spy on the Trump campaign. If you are going to get a FISA warrant to take the extraordinary step of spying on a presidential campaign, you should have some solid evidence that a person was working covertly with a foreign government. And yet 2 years later Page has not come close to being indicted, because he was not doing anything the FBI alleged he was doing.

  4. avatar

    No they gave the S. Americans safe passage so they would not stop in Mexico.

    • avatar
      Patricia Watkins on

      It appears that Mexico just waves many illegals right through to America. Sometimes giving them temporary transit documents. Mexico should not be waving illegal migrants toward America. If Mexico cares so much about illegal migrants, then treat them like you do by offering them asylum and assistance instead of watching them be human trafficked and taking a dangerous journey. How many illegals have died trekking through the rough, hot, dry terrain of our deserts. So looking forward to the “wall” being built and a change to our asylum policy. If Trump can remove us from various traditional international policies & laws & groups, then let him remove us from being forced to accept illegals onto our soil for asylum requests. Too many billions of taxpayer dollars wasted on that.