Since Donald Trump is on a tirade about The Wall, immigration and aid to countries, like Honduras, I thought it might be good to update you on the Mérida Initiative. As you might remember, the Mérida Initiative was created by George W. Bush and Felipe Calderón in 2008 to deal with the drug cartel violence in México. Lest some of you forget, Bush was a Republican president and the initiative had wide bipartisan support led by the Republicans. The Democrats agreed to support the project once concessions were made for human rights issues.
Why is it important to go over it again? Because it is only a matter of time before Donald Trump and his supporters bring it up as an example of U.S. aid to México. It is also important to remind you all that part of the scheme was to allow both countries to cooperate with border security and on immigration issues.
The U.S. Congress allocated about $2 billion to fund four pillars of deliverables. So far, the U.S. has spent $2.9 billion. The four pillars are:
1. Disrupt Capacity of Organized Crime to Operate
2. Institutionalize Capacity to Sustain Rule of Law
3. Create a 21st Century Border Structure
4. Build Strong and Resilient Communities
Pillar three is the one that brings Trump’s recent tirades into focus and it involves immigration policy in México and the issue of The Wall.
Under Pillar Three of the Mérida Initiative, the U.S., government sought to secure the porous border in southern México. Belize and Guatemala border México on the south. In 2013, México implemented a southern border security system.
The plan involved establishing a dozen advanced naval bases on the rivers in the southern part of México, as well as creating a 100-mile security zone. Mexico’s migration agents were teamed up with federal and state police forces to enhance migratory enforcement in the area.
There is no southern border wall nor is one planned by México.
In 2016, the Obama administration praised México for its southern border enforcement. In 2015-2016, Mexican forces interdicted 150,000 Central American migrants who had entered México.
Donald Trump has repeatedly tweeted, as recently as yesterday, that México has better immigration enforcement, than the United States.
On the other hand, the enhancement of stronger border control by México, has led to a significant increases in complaints by human rights organizations.
For those of you in El Paso, Pillar Four was based on the Juárez Initiative that has been credited with bringing violence down in the city. That program was overseeing by individuals involved in the controversial Paso del Norte Group as well as the people behind the baseball stadium and the proposed soccer team.
As The Wall and immigration issues continue to consume the Trump administration, the one thing Trump and his cohorts seem to forget is that the Mérida Initiative created better coordination between U.S. and Mexican forces and increased cooperation on immigration and security. Th U.S. has spent almost $3 billion and the Trump administration seems intent on destroying that investment through the politics of hate.
For those of you interested in seeing how much money has been allocated and how it has being spent, you can visit the Mérida Initiative page by following this link. It has the latest figures available.