Brutal Borders

Mexico's Immigration Crackdown—And How the United States Funds It

Ingrid Beatriz Palacios, 19, a Honduran citizen, sits next to her two-year-old son Kevin David during a stopover on their journey to northern Mexico and then to United States. They are in southern Mexico, June 26, 2014. Jorge Dan Lopez / Reuters

First, gang members in Honduras murdered July Elizabeth Pérez’s brother and 14-year-old son—and then they came for her. So she gathered her three surviving children and fled, hoping to find sanctuary in the United States from the relentless violence. But she didn’t make it that far. Instead, she and the children were stopped in Mexico, where they languish in a shelter. She is hardly alone. Like her, thousands have been caught up in a crackdown on migrants that is partially funded by the United States.

In the summer of 2014, tens of thousands of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras streamed into the United States, capturing headlines. The political response to the “crisis” (in truth, the numbers of migrants had been growing since 2011) was swift. Republicans demanded tougher border control measures and put the final nail in the coffin of already stalled efforts at bipartisan immigration

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