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Poll: Mexicans Favor Deporting Migrants Back To Their Home Countries


Last month, Mexico made a deal with the United States to crack down on Central American migrants who are trying to make their way to the U.S. border. In June, Mexico arrested and deported the highest number of migrants in more than 10 years, and there were questions about how this tough approach would play in Mexico. But new public polling shows that Mexicans are in favor of this strategy. James Fredrick has the story from Mexico City.

JAMES FREDRICK, BYLINE: A poll conducted by The Washington Post and Mexican newspaper Reforma shows 55% of respondents think migrants should be deported back to their home country. For years, the largest share of migrants going to the U.S. came from Mexico. But now with thousands of Central Americans fleeing violence, repression and poverty, Mexico has become primarily a transit country for migrants. Late last year, when a large migrant caravan marched through Mexico, polls showed a majority of Mexicans thought their country should help the caravan. But support for migrants has eroded since. Claudia Leon Ang studies migration in Mexico and is the operations director of the Jesuit Refugee Service. She says anti-immigrant sentiment often comes from local media.

CLAUDIA LEON ANG: (Speaking Spanish).

FREDRICK: She says the content and style of local news often frames migrants as criminals. It's a compelling narrative in a country experiencing its highest levels of violent crime ever. But she says there's no evidence that immigrants are a driving force behind crime. Another issue is the growing number of asylum-seekers stuck in Mexico. Under a U.S. policy known as Remain in Mexico, nearly 20,000 asylum-seekers have been sent back to Mexico to wait months or even years for their asylum case to be heard in the U.S. But 6 in 10 people polled said migrants are a burden on the country. Here's Claudia Leon again.

ANG: (Speaking Spanish).

FREDRICK: She says, in a country with so much inequality, poverty and abandonment by public institutions, you're going to generate resentment. It seems this is now a fight of the poor versus the poor, she says. Another important detail in the poll, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose administration is leading the crackdown on migrants, has a 70% approval rating. The Mexican government may have public support, but it faces steeper challenges as tens of thousands of people hoping to request asylum in the U.S. may now be stuck in Mexico surrounded by a public that doesn't want them. For NPR News, I'm James Fredrick in Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.