Mexico’s Next President Plans His Own Border Police Force

(Bloomberg) -- After months of Donald Trump’s controversial clampdown on immigration, Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is planning his own border police force to stop undocumented immigrants, drugs and guns from crossing into the country from Central America, his future chief of public security said.

Picked by Lopez Obrador, Alfonso Durazo stressed that the new force would be part of a larger regional development effort to ease the poverty and violence that lead so many Central Americans to cross into Mexico. The police corps will be sizable, he said, and will be deployed to Mexico’s northern border as well. He declined to offer more specifics as the details are still being decided.

"We’re going to create a border police force that will be highly specialized," Durazo said in an interview. "They need to apply the law," including stopping undocumented migrants and human traffickers from crossing into Mexico, which Durazo says often takes place with the help of corrupt officials.

Lopez Obrador and the left-wing party he formed in 2014 won a landslide victory in last week’s election after voters disgusted with rising crime, corruption and poverty kicked the nation’s established parties out of power. AMLO, as he’s known, also got a boost from pledges to protect Mexicans against an immigrant crackdown by U.S. President Donald Trump. Now he’ll be faced with the unenviable task of securing the nation’s own untamed southern border, while avoiding the hard-line tactics he has criticized Trump for.

Lopez Obrador, who takes power Dec. 1, will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday. Immigration is likely to be one of the topics they discuss.

Utter Failure

Durazo stressed that the most important measures to contain immigration under Lopez Obrador will be humanitarian and will include coordination with Central American countries to improve the quality of life of their citizens.

The former private secretary to ex President Vicente Fox, said Mexico’s security strategy has utterly failed and needs to be overhauled. "The legitimate use of force by the state is a resource," he said. "But it shouldn’t be the first resource, it should be the last one."

The new administration’s first priority will be to fight the causes of the violence. For example, to prevent corruption, it will significantly increase salaries and benefits for law enforcement officials and create more police academies to double the number of security personnel that can receive training per year, he said.

Lopez Obrador’s top cop reiterated his comments from April to Bloomberg, that the sale and use of marijuana should be decriminalized and regulated. But before a policy decision is made on the matter, it will be put to a public referendum, he said.

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