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The Scene At The Guatemalan-Mexican Border


Part of the deal calls for Mexico to tighten its southern border with Guatemala. Reporter James Fredrick joins us now from Ciudad Hidalgo in Mexico on that border. James, hello.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: So that spot on the border where you are now, describe it for us. Are migrants able to cross? What does it look like?

FREDRICK: So I've been down here several times over the last few years, and it looks like it always has. So here at this river, there are these inflatable inner tubes. They strap boards on top of them, and then they use these inner tubes to ferry people between Guatemala and Mexico. And being here this morning, these little rafts are crossing as they always have. So, you know, that includes little goods they're crossing between the two countries, commuters, people just going for the day into Mexico or Guatemala. But I've also seen several groups of migrants cross today.

So a little bit earlier, there were a couple of soldiers walking around doing a little loop here. But other than that, there's absolutely no enforcement of this border, as Mexico says it's going to do.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The official migration entrance is some miles away from where you are now. So there are, of course, some places on the border where there are actual checkpoints and guards.

FREDRICK: Yeah. As I've been driving around the area, you can see there is a presence of authorities. So there may not be right here on the river itself, but there are migration authorities, police, soldiers. And they're setting up checkpoints at highways, and they're checking vans and buses and trying to find undocumented migrants here. And then they are detaining them. So it's not that there aren't authorities here. There just aren't authorities right on the river right now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let me ask you, have you been able to speak with anyone there about this agreement, and what's been their reaction?

FREDRICK: You know, when talking to people who use this crossing often, they're a bit worried about it being militarized, about a lot of military being here. But some people are also doubtful. Some people think, you know, this is just a show, they're not actually going to do anything, they're going to leave it as it always is. And that's kind of how I feel, also. It's unclear what exactly this new enforcement is going to look like on the southern border.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: As part of this agreement, there's supposed to be 6,000 National Guard that are going to be deployed to the southern border by Mexico. What have you heard about that?

FREDRICK: Well, I've been trying to understand that because this National Guard was just created this year. It's kind of the key security plan of President Lopez Obrador out here. But since it was so recently created, just a couple of days ago authorities told me the National Guard was not yet operating. But from Washington, Mexican officials said that 6,000 National Guardsmen would be here on the southern border by tomorrow, Monday. That is the key part of them saying they will reinforce this southern border.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's James Fredrick in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

James, thank you so much.

FREDRICK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.