Migrants to be Sent Back to Destabilized Border Under MPP
BROWNSVILLE - A controversial program which sends migrants back to Mexico to wait out the immigration proceedings is now in effect in the Rio Grande Valley.
It's known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or Remain in Mexico plan.
Earlier in June, a man seeking asylum and waiting in Matamoros said he was fleeing violence back home after being shot in the back and having two relatives killed.
He said he feels safe at the shelter he's housed but nowhere else.
It's a sentiment expressed by many migrants in Tamaulipas -- the state bordering Texas is just as dangerous as the country they're leaving behind.
Now, migrants who don't have proper documentation to request asylum in the U.S. or who enter illegally could be sent back to Mexico via Tamaulipas.
The state is crippled by growing violence and left to handle the finances related to migrant care largely on its own.
A military vehicle sat on the riverbanks of Matamoros across Brownsville near the foot of the Gateway International Bridge on Friday.
Members of the Mexican National Guard were seen patrolling the makeshift camp by the river where migrants who cannot afford hotels or the cost associated with the daily trips to the bridge from the shelter stay.
Mexico's federal government is enforcing its immigration laws on its north and southern border.
The effects are felt in shelters near the last stop for migrants.
Juan Antonio Sierra Vargas, the director of Casa del Migrante in Matamoros estimates, "There’s a lot of operations, and it’s made the flow decrease along the northern border. It’s gone down by about 70-percent."
Food and space are a challenge at the shelter that can comfortably house about 80.
Sierra Vargas says they can maneuver to squeeze up to 200, if it's required as it was last year.
The shelter relies on donations; it receives no federal or state aid. "Thanks to the community and the society of Matamoros and a lot of different church groups, we get by," he said.
About nine MPP groups went to the shelter in Matamoros.
They were all from the other sites where MPP is currently in place, Juarez and Tijuana.
None stayed in Tamaulipas.
That can change. The Department of Homeland Security started returning migrants through Matamoros's port of entry Friday.
It was confirmed through the office of Congressman Filemon Vela and the City of Brownsville.
Earlier this week, in the same state, a Mexican state police officer was shot and killed while five others were wounded.
The state near the border appears to be destabilizing.
It's cause and effect, explains former FBI agent and Fontes International Solutions' Arturo Fontes.
"There’s threats now that they want to kill state police and federal police in Tamaulipas because apparently there was an agreement and now there is no agreement."
The increase in border enforcement is driving up tensions between cartels who manage illegal immigration and law enforcement hired to curb it.
Fontes says migrants will be walking into a state where they will be seen as job fillers in a war for routes and power. "There’s a shortage of work," he explains. "There’s a term they use -- ‘carne para el canon.’
Someone they can use to fight with the cartel, and a lot of the young females are used for prostitution, for slave trade."
Fontes said a cartel boss in Reynosa known as 'El Primito' was recently displaced to San Luis Potosi.
That and the recent arrival as of two weeks ago of the Mexican National Guard are shifting the power dynamics in the region.
Brownsville is the second city across Tamaulipas with the MPP program in place. Laredo began the program earlier on July 9, 2019.