The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is considering helping Mexico increase security at its southern border with Guatemala, according to a Jan. 19 report by Mexican news outlet La Politica Online. The policy option, which could end up being a point of negotiation in expected talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), may take the form of a joint effort to secure Mexico's southern border to stem the flow of migrants headed to the United States from Central America and elsewhere.
Mexico increased security on its southern border in 2014, and the proposed initiative may provide money to bolster that effort. The U.S. proposal appears to be an effort to implement, in some form, the border wall that Trump repeatedly promised during the presidential campaign. Such an option would likely be cheaper to implement than additions to the U.S.-Mexican border fence because of the comparatively shorter length of Mexico's border with Guatemala and because roads and rail lines into Southern Mexico would be easier to choke off than the ones at the much longer U.S.-Mexican border. The success of any effort to stem immigration across the Mexico-Guatemala border depends on the nature of physical barriers and security forces present, as well as how many routes migrants can find to bypass the security.
In addition, such a solution may be more politically palatable for Mexico, given that Central American migrants would be the main targets of any strengthening of border security. Any U.S. attempt to negotiate repayment from Mexico for such a security plan may be met with political resistance in Mexico, depending on who wins its July 2018 presidential elections. There is also the question of how a proposed strengthening of border security in Mexico funded by the United States will affect U.S. relations with Central American nations. Cooperation with efforts to fight narcotics trafficking from these countries may be affected if political relations deteriorate as a result of U.S.-funded attempts to stem migrant flows.