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Mexico / Guatemala

How the US outsources border security

The United States is the No. 1 destination for international migrants. Central America is home to some of the deadliest gang wars in the world. So it was inevitable that Mexico would become a transit route between them. I ventured to Mexico’s northern and southern border to see what this pathway looks like, and on the first day, I witnessed this moment:

A little boy, clutching his father’s hand. They were fleeing from violence in their home country, Honduras, seeking asylum in the US.

Unprecedented numbers of families and children from Central America have arrived at the US border in recent years, causing what was widely called a “crisis” in 2014. That year, non-Mexican migrants apprehended at the border outnumbered Mexicans for the first time.

In response, the Obama administration put pressure on the Mexican government to do more to secure its own southern border. Mexican immigration officials targeted the routes commonly used by migrants, including the network of freight trains known as “La Bestia.” It worked, and the number of Central American migrants arriving at the US border dropped.

After spending a few days with the US border patrol in Texas, I traveled to Mexico’s other border to see what this US-funded crackdown looks like: