Mexico says migrant numbers down but warns of impending crisis

©Agence France-Presse

Mexico is under pressure from Washington to slow down the stream of mostly Central American migrants heading to the United States

Mexico City (AFP) - The number of undocumented migrants entering Mexico in the hope of reaching the United States dropped by almost a third in June, the foreign office said Wednesday, warning that a crisis was still on the way if the numbers didn't fall further.

Some 100,000 people, mostly Central Americans, entered Mexico in June, compared with 144,000 the month before, Deputy Foreign Minister for Latin America and the Caribbean Maximiliano Reyes told reporters.

Under the threat of export tariffs from Washington if it doesn't stem the flow of undocumented migrants towards the US, Mexico deployed thousands of troops and police at its borders in June and ramped up detentions and deportations.

If the unusually high numbers traversing the country continues, there's "a latent risk of a humanitarian crisis or that a misfortune will happen," said Reyes.

In previous years, an estimated 500,000 migrants annually crossed Mexico in search of the "American Dream."

Most are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, fleeing poverty and violence instigated by drug traffickers or criminal gangs.

However, since last October many such migrants have been forming large caravans traipsing through Central America and Mexico and causing alarm in the US, where they hope to claim asylum.

In May, US President Donald Trump threatened to impose gradually increasing tariffs from five to 25 percent on Mexican exports if the country failed to slow down the migrants.

A month later, the US suspended the application of potential tariffs and gave Mexico 45 days to apply measures to stem the tide.

The Trump administration announced a new policy on Tuesday that declares almost all migrants arriving from Mexico ineligible for asylum.

Mexico responded by saying it would resist attempts to use it as a dumping ground for asylum seekers rejected by the US.