My experience is very recent as of this month.

On Tuesday I flew from Laredo to Houston. My flight was delayed several hours and I met several Venezuelans who had just been released from CBP detention after having swam the river near Brownsville. None of them experienced problems in Mexico and commented that Mexico had given them 45 days permission. When we got to Houston, I deboarded with one of them and we waited for another. He finally joined us with several more Venezuelans and a Haitian couple who also wanted me to help them. I left them led to their gates and helped one change his flight since he had missed his connection. One disturbing bit of information - one of the Venezuelans commented that in the group that he was interviewed with by CBP he noted that many of them were thugs based on their accents and tattoos yet they were released and given future court dates. He told me he was interviewed for much longer because he had many more stamps in his passport. He had worked in Ecuador and had even gone to The Gambia to repair a fishing vessel - he showed me photos and his passport. He was a really nice guy and clearly was coming to the US to seek better employment. But he commented that Manta, Ecuador had become extremely dangerous. It seemed as if all of them had been coached as to how to include danger into their immigration stories.

When was your most recent experience? I travel these routes at least once a year and know them very well as I often drive as well. On my most recent trip I was surprised how I was warned on both sides to avoid the La Mesilla crossing and the city of Comitan. I was told the narcos now control the area - I cannot help but think that much of this is directly related to alien smuggling.

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I wrote about Darien last year in an article "Migrant Refugees at the Darien Gap Are Trapped Between Two Worlds" (https://gonenative.substack.com/p/migrant-crisis-colombia-panama-darien-gap). As a non-reporter my knowledge and access are somewhat limited, but it's still a scary situation. Looking forward to more transparency around what's being done in the Gap; it's hard enough to get legit information even inside Colombia short of actually traveling to the region. And even then, everyone will tell you something different unless you actually strap on some rubber boots and go wading into the jungle after people, not advisable under the best of circumstances. If there's anything I can do to help with this reporting (I live in Colombia and have contacts on this side of Darién), please don't hesitate to reach out!

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I regular drive from the north of Mexico to the Guatemalan border and there are check points but these are easily avoided by smugglers. On my most recent trip I took a bus from Tapachula to Tuxtla Gutierrez. Even at the customs check point north of Huixtla no one was checking documents yet the bus was over 75% migrants. Some spoke no Spanish or English (I asked trying to find out what country they were from).

Mexico does nothing more than pay lip service. I have spoken with immigration officers off duty and they basically admitted this. I asked why there were so many Haitians in Tapachula and he commented that they had crossed through the jungle and Mexico lacked the resources to send them home. Last year where I live in Monterrey there were so many Haitians that I saw employment signs in French. Now you rarely see any as they have all gone north.

This becoming more and more of a problem for Mexico. I had planned on returning to Mexico via the La Mesilla border but every Guatemalan told me to avoid it so I returned via Cd Hidalgo. Once back in Mexico I was warned to avoid La Mesilla as well as Comitan. The narcos have taken over the area and alien smuggling is a huge business for them. This is what bothers me most about current US policy. Rather than closing the border - word gets out through the migrant community - and making it known that no one will qualify for asylum since they already transited multiple countries, they continue to encourage the flow.

I also met a humanitarian volunteer at the border which also ensures the flow will continue as they often coach migrants as to how best prepare their stories.

I still remember driving through Huixtla in 2018 when large caravans were all the news. Journalists claimed that the migrants had been walking since Central America yet I saw middle aged women pulling cheap suitcases with wheels that barely survive a flight or two. It had clearly been staged.

The US administration is not blind - they must know what is happening and either turn a blind eye or worse yet are complacent.

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I just got back from the Guatemalan/Mexican border. In Cd Hidalgo you can cross formally across the bridge or informally via a raft. The center of Tapachula more resembles an African city. At best Mexico pays lip service to the US but is obvious they have no intention of slowing the flow.

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May 5Liked by Todd Miller

Clear illustration of how the US is extending its borders. Too graphic images of refugees crowding the wall in El Paso, for example, need to be prevented. Bad PR for the administration. "Out of sight, out of mind" is such a forward-looking border policy, no?

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May 4Liked by Todd Miller

We only now are fully understanding what free trade means. The captains of industry, the Chambers of Commerce, the politicians and boosters who willingly gave up sovereign rights to corporations in the name of economic freedom are now finally showing their true colors of indifference to the migrants they helped produce. But they are no where to be found in the public hand wringing that accompanies the punishing of the poor. And the punishment is internationalized as the economic model that created so much opportunity cracks before our very eyes . . .

Keep informing us Todd, we need to know what we see.

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