If you’ve traveled by bus across Mexico, then you’ll be familiar with Mexican immigration ‘random’ checks while en route your destination.
As of Wednesday, Mexico’s immigration agents will no longer be able to carry out these supposedly random checks. Mexico’s supreme court ruled these checks as racist, discriminatory and so, illegal.
The decision came about after Immigration agents (INM) detained and abused three young indigenous Mexicans. The discriminatory act came after the agents accused the young Mexicans of being undocumented immigrants from the bordering country Guatemala. The three siblings, aged between 15 to 24, were Indigenous Tzeltal Mayans from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. The siblings didn’t speak Spanish fluently as 25% of the population in Chiapas speak an Indigenous language. This, along with their physical features, was used against them by immigration agents.
Nina Lakhani, of The Guardian, reports that shortly after the ordeal the officers held the siblings named Amy and Esther alongside their brother Alberto in a detention center. The officers held the siblings there illegally for 8 days, torturing Albrerto during this time. This happened until Alberto agreed to sign deportation documents, written in Spanish stating they were Guatemalan immigrants.
Following the case, the supreme court ruled the stop and search process inherently unconstitutional. They ruled that it is largely based on discrimination, as officers select individuals based on race, appearance and language spoken.
The gradual decision to remove Mexican Immigration ‘stop and search’
“The decision represents an opportunity to stop the discriminatory and racist practices by immigration authorities and the national guard who utilize racial profiling to detect migrants, that have led to arbitrary detentions of both immigrants and Mexicans,” said Gretchen Kuhner, director of the Institute for Women in Migration which supported the case.
Now, the INM can only carry out ID checks at ports, airports or land border crossings, and other specified situations.
This decision to abolish illegal Mexican Immigration checks comes two years after the Tzeltal youths received an apology from the government. The public apology showed the immigration chief admitting the use of racial profiling against the 3 young Mexicans.