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23 July 2019

The Trumpcast podcast recently released a new episode “Understanding Mexico in the Migration Crisis,” where host Leon Krauze interviewed director of the Strauss Center’s Central America/Mexico Policy InitiativeStephanie Leutert. They discussed Mexico’s involvement in what has been labeled as a crisis at the United States southern border. Leutert argued that for border control agents, the number of people crossing may feel like a crisis, and that since migrants were forced to leave their homes and go on this long journey, they may also perceive the situation as a crisis. However, Leutert is quick to point out that the lack of resources from both governments and United States policies have aggravated the situation.

Leutert then described what is going on in each country in the Northern Triangle that has caused people to flee. El Salvador actually has declining numbers of people migrating from the country. Those that are, usually come from urban areas and are fleeing gangs. Similarly, migrants fleeing Honduras are also concerned about gangs and security, especially in the cities. Those coming from rural areas are more concerned about the lack of profitable work due to climate change. The people fleeing Guatemala are also coming from rural areas where climate change has had a devastating effect on crop growth.

Krauze then asks Leutert if she believes that migrants pose a national security threat. She responds that the Trump administration is mistakenly viewing the situation as a national security threat, and not a humanitarian crisis. If they were accurately identifying the problem, their response would be different and more effective.

Leutert then looks into the role that Mexico has played in the past few years. She says that the national attention surrounding migrants is new in the country. Mexico has always had policies to address the issue but it was never part of the national debate. Leutert points out that the new Mexican administration’s human rights approach to grant all migrants humanitarian visas caused a spike in migration to the United States because people used their visas to travel through the country rather than to settle down and work. This policy was reversed following pressure from the United States.

Lastly, Leutert argues that both the United States and Mexico should be focusing on development in Central America, instead of taking away aid as they have done. The U.S. should be finding ways to make aid more effective because their “looking tough” strategy will not work.

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