Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican border city known for high rates of violence, received its first foreign migrants from the US on Tuesday as part of a programme begun in January, US and Mexican officials said.
The group of 10 people — including Central Americans, Venezuelans and Cubans — crossed into the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas via Nuevo Laredo’s border bridge, a source from the National Institute of Migration said.
They will wait in Tamaulipas while their claims to enter the US are assessed.
The move is part of a US plan, in co-ordination with Mexico, to expand the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) programme, which started in the Laredo sector of the US Southwest, US department of homeland security officials said.
However, shelter director Julio Lopez, who received one of the returning migrants, said Tamaulipas has “no action plan to attend to these people as promised.”
Faced with tariff threats from US President Donald Trump, Mexico agreed in June to increase the number of ports of entry under the MPP programme.
The programme, also known as ‘Remain in Mexico’, returns foreign asylum seekers to Mexican border localities while their claims are processed in the US.
It has included 18,503 migrants since it was launched early this year.
The MPP programme is part of an effort by Trump to curb the number of migrants entering the US illegally, especially those from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
US border officials announced on Tuesday that migrant apprehensions along the southwest border dropped from 144,278 in May to 104,344 in June, representing a May-to-June decline that is 11% larger than last year.
But the department said the border situation remains a “full-blown emergency,” with apprehensions last month still a very high 104,344, compared to 43,180 a year ago — with thousands fleeing poverty and violence in Central America still arriving daily.
DHS credited its “whole of government approach” for the decline, after apprehensions rocketed above 144,000 in May, overwhelming the government’s capacity for housing the migrants and exacerbating the squalid conditions in holding cells for new arrivals.
While migrant flows usually ebb in the hot summer, DHS said initiatives with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the sources of most of the migrants, and a joint crackdown with Mexico, whose territory most of them must transit, had contributed to the downturn.