Migrants near the US southern border
Migration to the US keeps breaking records AFP

On the U.S. side of the border, migrants are often eager to encounter border agents, as it signals the start of their asylum-seeking proceedings. On the Mexican side, the story is vastly different, a new report by CNN details.

Border crossings have substantially decreased over the past month. As both the US and Mexico head to presidential elections this year, and with immigration becoming a key focus in both races, an apparent turnaround on the issue could be touted as progress by both administrations.

Patrols are increasingly visible on the Mexican side of the border both in urban, congested areas of Tijuana, and inland. Such increased security comes as the Mexican government increases pressure on border control, CNN reports.

In the Spanish-speaking country, migrants avoid encountering Mexican authorities, as they will be taken to Tijuana, and then hundreds of miles further south to be processed and then deported if they do not have the right to be in the country.

In Mexico, particularly Tijuana and Ejido Jacume, a municipality close to the border, agents have set up large white tents, portable toilets and wash stations so they can rest on their 72-hour rotations through the desert. Locations are picked taking note of the constant cross–border communication.

"We need to block where they have free space to come into the US," David Perez Tejada, of Mexico's Migration National Institute told CNN.

To do this, local and federal officials in the Mexican state of Baja California and US Customs and Border Protection are in group chats together, texting back and forth about damage to the wall or sightings of migrants.

But government officials and agents aren't the only ones that have strengthened their border strategies. So have the gangs that smuggle migrants through.

As a way to cause problems and threaten government authorities, gangs have thrown spikes onto the dusty dirt roads that are the only way to access the border territory. Perez Tejada says there are also lookouts all around, waiting to signal when the patrols have moved on and cleared the coast.

"We redefine the strategy week by week as we see the numbers, the figures, as we exchange information with the US authorities. And with that we determine, what is the strategy," he said. "But it becomes a game, like cat and mouse."

The increased patrolling comes after US President Joe Biden urged Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to take action last December. The two agreed that "additional enforcement actions are urgently needed," according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, giving a readout of a call between the two leaders.

Now, Mexican authorities are trying to encourage asylum seekers to use the US government's CBP One app. There they can get an appointment for an asylum interview that can then allow them into the US legally for processing.

Grupo Beta, a government agency that offers aid to migrants, says it now prescreens up to 500 people with asylum claims every day, ensuring they have confirmed appointments and the necessary documents, reducing pressure on the US side.

Nevertheless, immigration experts have pointed to increasing violence in parts of Mexico driving people north, and criticized the CBP app for forcing people seeking asylum to wait in dangerous and overcrowded conditions.

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