Immigration across US-Mexico border plunges 74.5 pct in 9 months

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(Photo: AP)

MEXICO CITY, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Immigration across the US-Mexico border plunged 74.5 percent from May 2019 to January 2020, in the wake of a bilateral agreement to curb migrant flows, Mexico's Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Wednesday.

In January, the number of migrants crossing the border came to 36,679, a vast reduction compared to May 2019, when 144,116 cases were registered, according to official figures.

After migrant crossings reached record numbers in May 2019, the United States asked Mexico to put in place stricter controls or face punitive tariffs on exports, leading Mexico to bolster security at its borders, especially with Central American countries.

"The goal is to reduce the high risks taken by people who want to migrate when they do it in an unregulated way, because that puts them in danger," Ebrard told reporters at a press conference.

In addition to stepping up security, Mexico spearheaded a multinational program to boost investment in impoverished Central American regions and created a special commission to help migrants with temporary work.

At the same time, Mexico's government has spent upwards of 21 million US dollars to refurbish 15 "immigration stations," where undocumented migrants are housed pending processing.

Two migrant shelters were also built at the border with the United States to provide basic services, including healthcare and education, to those waiting to have their applications processed by US authorities.

In recent years, waves of Central American migrants fleeing poverty and violent crime have arrived at Mexico's southern border in organized caravans in an attempt to travel north to the United States.