Mexico: operations of trains used by migrants are suspended

La Bestia Tren Mexico

The operator of the largest railway network in Mexico -FERROMEX- suspended the activity of 60 freight trains due to the flow of thousands of migrants who use these vehicles to reach the border with the United States, the company announced this Tuesday (09/19/2023).

Some 4,300 people remain on the locomotives or in the FERROMEX operating yards in cities such as Torreón, Irapuato, San Francisco de los Romo or Chihuahua, to which fatal accidents have been added in recent days, the company said in a statement.

For years, thousands of migrants of different nationalities have used Mexico’s freight train networks – one of them known as The Beast or the Death Train – to cross the country towards the northern border, where they request asylum or cross irregularly. Many of these people end up dead or amputated after accidentally falling from the roof.

“Given the notable increase in migrants concentrated in various regions of the country and the severe risk that the use of freight trains for transportation represents to their integrity, FERROMEX has temporarily detained 60 trains so far,” the report indicated.

The company did not detail what percentage of its operation is affected by this temporary measure, although it maintained that the 60 trains have a loading capacity equivalent to that of 1,800 trucks.

He also reported that he is awaiting measures from the authorities to resolve the situation and warned that the stoppage of activities, of which he has already informed his clients, will impact the “productive chains, supply and international trade.” The network operated by FERROMEX covers 10,000 km of track in the main industrial and consumer areas of Mexico, connecting internationally with “eight ports and six border crossings,” according to its website.

The flow of migrants to the United States is incessant, despite Washington’s tightening of measures to contain or regularize their entry.

Since May 2023, people who cross the border irregularly are at risk of being expelled, deported or banned from entering the United States again for a period of five years, in addition to being criminally prosecuted for repeat offenses.

These measures are part of the so-called Title 8, in force for several years and which became relevant after Joe Biden’s Government repealed Title 42, a rule adopted by his predecessor, Donald Trump, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but which in practice served to expel almost all migrants who arrived without papers.

On September 18, several people were injured when thousands of migrants, mostly of Haitian origin, tried to force their way into the immigration office in Tapachula (south) to demand the delivery of transit permits.