The Corner

Enforcement Works, Cont’d

From the Financial Times:

Crackdown turns border town into ghost town

Maribel Navarro remembers a time, not so long ago, when afternoons at La Perla restaurant in the remote border settlement of Sásabe, on the Arizona-Mexico border, meant crowded tables and queues stretching out of the door.

The truck-loads of Mexican and Central American migrants who descended on Sásabe en route to the US provided enough business not only for Ms Navarro but for the whole community. Some estimates suggest that more than 1,000 migrants – between a third and a half of the total number – passed through Sásabe every day.

This lunchtime, however, Ms Navarro is struggling to find things to do. The pots are bubbling on the stove, the tables have been set and the only movement in the semi-gloom is a few flies tracing rectangles in the air. “It’s dead here,” she says. “Sásabe is turning into a ghost town.”

The sharp changes felt in Sásabe are the latest evidence that the huge volume of undocumented migrants, which for decades has flowed back and forth between Mexico and the US, is contracting sharply as the increasing difficulty of crossing has made migrants think twice about trying.

… Since the beginning of this year, US authorities in the Laredo sector have been employing an additional weapon to deter would-be migrants: the threat of prosecution. Under Operation Streamline, all undocumented migrants appear before a county judge and are charged with a misdemeanour offence with jail time attached. Previously, they were just repatriated.

The programme has placed immense strain on the local courts but it appears to be working. One court clerk in the Laredo sector told the Financial Times that he had not seen a single repeat offender since the operation began.

“If they are trying to come back they are not doing it here,” he said. Operation Streamline is up and running along about a quarter of the border.

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