Mexico migration chief offers resignation

Mexico Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard (R) has outlined a major new immigration operations.
Mexico Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard (R) has outlined a major new immigration operations.

Mexico's immigration chief has presented his resignation to the president as the country embarks on a crackdown on irregular migration through its territory in response to US pressure.

The National Immigration Institute said in a brief statement on Friday that Tonatiuh Guillen thanked President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for the opportunity to serve the country, but it did not give a reason for why he presented his resignation.

Earlier Friday, Lopez Obrador acknowledged that controls are lax at dozens of crossings at the country's southern border, vowing to correct the situation amid US pressure to crack down on migration from Central America.

"We have identified 68 crossings like that, and in all of them there will be oversight," Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said at a morning news conference, responding to questioning about checkpoints where cross-border traffic was seen coming and going freely.

The president, who took office December 1, attributed the problem to residual corruption at the National Migration Institute and the customs agency and noted that more than 500 immigration workers have been let go as part of a purge.

"We are cleaning house, but this work takes time," Lopez Obrador said.

Mexico has promised to deploy 6000 members of its new, still-forming National Guard to control immigration in its southern border region with Guatemala as part of a recent agreement with the United States. US President Donald Trump had threatened stiff tariffs on all imports from Mexico if the country didn't do more.

Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Friday the Guard deployment will be readied by Tuesday, along with 825 immigration agents and 200 officials from the country's welfare department.

But there has been no sign so far of any National Guard presence in the southern city of Tapachula, near Guatemala. Nor has there been any notable change at the Suchiate border river, where locals and migrants alike commonly cross.

Police and immigration had already stepped up enforcement in southern Mexico in recent months, setting up highway checkpoints, raiding a recent caravan of mostly Central American migrants and trying to keep people off the northbound train known as "the beast."

Australian Associated Press