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NOGALES, Mexico – Mexican immigration officers are overwhelmed and purposely understaffed, a Mexican immigration official told Fox News in an exclusive interview.
“I just adapt to the decisions of my president,” said Nadir Ali Fernandez Villasana, the local representative of the National Institute of Migration office in Nogales, Mexico. “But since this new administration took power, the new president in Mexico is austerity…austerity in the republic.”
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador launched an austerity policy when he took office in 2018, aimed at fighting corruption by reducing the size of government and abuses of government spending. He planned to use the recovered money for the future development of the country.
Fernandez Villasana said the policy has a direct impact on resources on Mexico’s northern border.
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The Sonora border district is 389 miles long and has six major entry points, including Nogales.
Fernandez Villasana’s office, which is responsible for implementing migration policy in four guard posts in the Nogales region plus 12 additional municipalities, had 40 officers to process people in the district. But under orders from the Obrador administration, that was reduced to 15.
“There’s quite a big difference between the United States and Mexico,” said Fernandez Villasana.
“In Mexico, we don’t really see migration as illegal,” he continued. “In the United States, people who have illegal immigration status are hunted down more than in Mexico. In Mexico, we try to make migration orderly, safe. We don’t see it as a crime, as a migration crime. “
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Fernandez Villasana told Fox News that Mexican citizens deported from the United States receive food and travel vouchers and are released to find their way home. Immigrants from other countries, such as Guatemala and El Salvador, are shipped to a facility further south to complete the deportation process if they do not have the proper paperwork.
Due to downsizing due to the austerity policy, Fernandez Villasana said he does not always have the staff “to take some illegal immigrants to the migration station who are illegally in the country, and if I don’t I don’t have a place of temporary detention to keep these people, I have to let them go. It’s a consequence.
Fernandez Villasana described an overwhelming workload for his 15 officers: eight-hour shifts for administrative work at entry points, then overtime to cover road checkpoints.
But Fernandez Villasana told Fox News he believed the austerity policy was working despite the difficulties his office faced.
“I feel like [Obrador] had to do this to have people who will work better in his government,” Fernandez Villasana said. really used.”
Fernandez Villasana said illegal immigration is a problem for Nogales.
“I don’t know how many people are trying to cross or come to Nogales,” he told Fox News. “But yes, it’s a problem for the city.”
“It’s a problem because we don’t know for all the people who come, which ones are criminals,” he continued.
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Fernandez Villasana said the problems are not always visible because illegal migrants do not roam freely. They hide from the authorities because they don’t want to be deported.
He said there were many hiding places where they were hiding. Fernandez Villasana said they weren’t going after hiding places because “we belong to national security, but we don’t carry guns.”
He said that if they wanted to do an operation like checking a hiding place, they would have to coordinate with the army or the police because it is very dangerous. Many hideouts belong to the cartels.