The Human Rights Cost-Benefit Analysis of U.S. Border Externalization

By Megan Abbot

Sonia Nazario reports for the New York Times that the U.S. is paying tens of millions of dollars to Mexico to externalize border controls, preventing Central American migrants fleeing gang and narco-cartel violence from entering the U.S. Mexican President Peña Nieto announced the border control policy under the guise of protecting the human rights of migrants coming legally through Mexico.  In fact, the repression has forced migrants, including children, into traveling in more dangerous ways, traveling alone, at night, or on foot through dangerous areas.  Nazario’s piece profiles one family fleeing San Pedro Sula, Honduras, a city with one of the highest homicide rates in the world.  After the murders of her brother and her 14-year-old son at the hands of gang violence, and fearing that the same gang could come after her and her children in Guatemala, July Elizabeth Pérez sought to join family living legally in Florida.  Instead, she was detained in Mexico on her way to the U.S., facing abusive and filthy conditions of detention, and a very difficult asylum process ahead.  July’s story is illustrative of the policy shift that has resulted in fewer Central Americans making it to the U.S., and many arrested and facing human rights abuses in Mexico.