Mexico says it has reduced the flow of migrants heading to its northern border by more than 50 percent in the previous three months, an effort meant to keep damaging U.S. tariffs at bay, reports the New York Times. Through the deployment of its new National Guard, the Mexican government has aggressively targeted migrants traveling through its territory on their way to the U.S. The number of migrants detained along the U.S.-Mexico border dropped to 63,989 in August, from 146,266 at the end of May. The announcement Friday by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, comes ahead of a meeting in Washington between the two nations.
Tensions between the countries flared this year, after President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports unless the nation did more to stem the flow of migrants. To avoid the tariffs, and threats of even more draconian tactics, Mexico dispatched more than 20,000 police officers and Guard personnel to cover its southern border and the highways running north through the nation. The hope was that by showing a meaningful drop in individuals seeking entry to the U.S., the government could stave off Trump’s threats of economic retaliation. Rights groups have denounced the crackdown, arguing it is not in compliance with the country’s own laws and is criminalizing vulnerable populations simply for seeking a better life. Mexico says it has also targeted smuggling networks, which it blames for instigating the large caravans that appeared earlier in the year en route to the U.S.