Photos: Network of fixers preys on migrants crossing into Mexico | In Pictures

When immigrant overcome Mexico through the main southern border city of Tapachula – a humid place with no job opportunities – they soon learn the only way to bypass the bureaucracy and speed up the months-long immigration process is to pay for who’s that.

With the number of foreigners entering Mexico skyrocketing, a vast network of lawyers, fixers, and middlemen has exploded in the country. At every step, opportunists are ready to provide documentation or advice to migrants who can afford it – and who don’t want to risk their lives in a lorry to cross the border. danger.

Repairers have always found business with people traveling across the country. But the growing number of migrants over the past year have made the work more prominent and profitable, as have new efforts by Mexico to control migration by speeding up processing. document management.

As a result, a booming business often hunts for a migrant population most of them are poor, desperate and unable to turn elsewhere.

Even when migrants buy travel documents or visas, they are not guaranteed safe transit. Documents may be ignored or destroyed by the same agency that issued them.

Migrants rarely report suspicious behavior. Most assume that their payments and time are part of the price of traveling north to the United States. Even when corruption is reported, authorities rarely act, citing a lack of evidence.

Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration did not respond to multiple requests for comment on its anti-corruption efforts, and officials there declined to be interviewed. This month, the agency said it had complied with all recommendations made by the office of internal control as part of its commitment to combat corruption. In previous statements, they said that officials try to avoid bribery and corruption by installing surveillance cameras in offices and encouraging people to report problems.

The lack of accountability has made it easier for mediators to operate and exchange payments and information with officials.

“This is never going to end because there are so many high-ranking officials involved and getting a lot of money,” said Monica Vazquez, a public attorney from Puebla, central Mexico.

She and her colleagues believe the situation is only getting worse.

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