CD. JUÁREZ, CHIH. MEXICO ― Valeria was working at her small tiendita in southern Michoacan state when a young man she knew from the neighborhood approached to buy a cigarette.
Seconds later, a truck full of armed men stopped in front of the shop. They grabbed the young man and left. Valeria ran to the man’s wife: Lo levantaron, she said. They took him. He was found dead later that day.
Valeria, who asked that her real name not be used to protect her identity, said police came to her door and warned her, “People say you saw.” The next day a family member received a message: Valeria “would be next.”
Before the week was over, Valeria’s family was packed and gone, headed for the border. Like thousands of Mexicans in recent months, the family fled a combustive mix of crime and poverty in hopes of making it to the U.S.
In the past four months, Mexicans have once again become the majority of unauthorized migrants caught at the border, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Border Patrol apprehensions of Mexican nationals have risen for two consecutive years, jumping 30% from a 40-year low, reversing a decade-long downward trend.
And while the U.S. has successfully pressured Mexico to crack down on Central American migrants, analysts say the Mexican government hasn’t created the economic and security conditions that might keep its own people from leaving. The country is struggling with its highest-ever level of homicides and a stagnant GDP, while a booming U.S. economy simultaneously creates a powerful draw north.
The weak economy and a deteriorating security situation in Mexico “absolutely do drive migration,” said Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington, D.C. “We should be concerned that the Mexican economy is not growing and, in certain states, is in recession. And violence is once again on the rise and hitting record levels.”
Border apprehensions of Mexicans outpace other nationalities
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