What is the mechanism that allows immigrants from other central-american countries to cross Mexico to the US border? Are Mexican border controls simply lax? Or are there other considerations..?

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    Why wouldn't it? Disallowing immigrants is relatively new, and on humanitarian grounds I wonder if it is even legal to "build a wall".
    – paul23
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 4:18
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    I understood your question as mainly being about Mexico's southern border; the existing answers seem to assume that it's about Mexico's northern border. Can you clarify which one your question is about?
    – tim
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 11:07
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    Southern border...
    – BobT
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 14:10
  • Would you expect the U.S. bar migrants to cross into Canada?
    – Drux
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 5:43
  • @Drux Perhaps. If Canada stated that these migrants were not going to be admitted. Granted, the asylum issue complicates things...
    – BobT
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 18:24

4 Answers 4


Mexico doesn't impose exit controls on travelers, just like the US and Canada don't at their borders. Hence there is nothing legally stopping anyone from crossing into the US from Mexico without a proper visa. And Mexico has zero incentive to allow thousands of illegal immigrants to stay on their land, so they're more than happy to let the US handle the problem.

  • Good point. I hadn't considered the US/Canada example.
    – BobT
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 14:11
  • Although I was asking about entrance controls... Perhaps the same point applies.
    – BobT
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 14:24
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    It is a situation very much like that of the destitute migrants camped in France, heading for the UK where they hope to be granted asylum. They are already illegally in France. The British argument is that they should claim asylum in the first safe country into which they arrive. For those having arrived across the Mediterranean in ramshackle boats, it should be Italy, Greece, or Spain - the UK government argues. Nobody knows what to do. No one can bring themselves to allow such people to drown in the sea - except some very nasty fascists in southern Europe.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 0:38
  • @WS2 the humane solution is to tow the boats back to Libya, which is what the Italian government is trying to do Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 3:18
  • They are not "illegal migrants", they are seeking asylum. They may feel that Mexico cannot offer them asylum or safety.
    – user
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 11:21

I think it is a matter of strategy, obviously is illegal to enter Mexico same as it is illegal to enter US. The Mexican government tried (and is helping the US) to stop the migrant group.

But at some point with that many people not stopping at your requests (nor using the legal stablished ways for migration and refuge requests) you have to make a decision: let them through or stop them by force, for Mexico this was an easier call than for the US because the express intent of the migrants is not to stay in Mexico but to enter to the US.

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    It's not illegal to enter a country seeking asylum. It may be illegal to transit Mexico, but only if their asylum claim could be made there instead of the US. It's not clear if Mexico would offer them all safety.
    – user
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 11:22
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    @user It is actually very clear how to ask for refuge and what safeties are given by Mexico for refugee seekers and refugees, it is a very straightforward process and when you do it you will not be deported in the time it is being processed.
    – Dodd
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 13:15

The right to enter and leave are rights guaranteed to citizens according to Article 11 of the Constitution

Everyone has the right to enter and leave the Republic, to travel through its territory and to change his residence without necessity of a letter of security, passport, safe-conduct or any other similar requirement. The exercise of this right shall be subordinated to the powers of the judiciary, in cases of civil or criminal liability, and to those of the administrative authorities insofar as concerns the limitations imposed by the laws regarding emigration, immigration and public health of the country, or in regard to undesirable aliens resident in the country.

Article 11, Constitution of the United Mexican States, 1917 (as Amended). Washington: Pan American Union, 1961. Print.

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    1) That article doesn't mention citizens. 2) Is anyone saying any significant portion of the caravan is composed of Mexican citizens? 3) Regardless of any of that, the final sentence makes it clear that this right is subordinate to immigration laws, so this is definitely not an inviolable right. Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 7:08

Most of these "immigrants" are in fact seeking asylum, not immigration status. As such if Mexico did try to remove them they could claim asylum in Mexico and by international convention could not be immediately refused.

So from Mexico's point of view it's better to let them pass through and claim asylum in the US.

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