MEXICO CITY – Seven top officials were fired Thursday from Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, part of a wider cleanup effort at the embattled department amid rampant migrant kidnappings and accusations that some agents have been involved.
The officials directed operations in seven states most traveled by Central American migrants trying to reach the United States and where some of the worst atrocities against migrants have occurred, the Interior Department announced in a statement.
They include the director in the northern state of Tamaulipas, where a group of Central American migrants recently accused immigration agents of pulling them off buses and handing them over to criminal gangs. Six agents from the immigration institute were arrested after migrants identified them in photographs.
The plight of migrants is a source of discomfort in Mexico, which regularly lobbies for better treatment of its own immigrants in the United States.
But despite many efforts to root out corruption, Mexican immigration officials and police are often found to be involved in the kidnapping of migrants, who are regularly extorted for money and, more recently, targeted by drug gangs trying to forcibly recruit them as traffickers.