MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s government is planning to deport thousands of migrants as part of an anti-illegal immigration crackdown that could cost tens of thousands of jobs and damage the country’s economy, a government official said Wednesday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said the plan is in the planning stages and that it would include the deportation of migrants with convictions for crimes like homicide or rape, as well as those who had been in Mexico illegally for a long time.
He said the government would also be prepared to deport migrants who committed crimes in the U.S., including drug-related crimes, but not the people who are seeking asylum in Mexico.
“This is not just about the deportation, but also the expulsion of migrants who are here illegally and who are doing good things in Mexico,” the official said.
“The plan is not going to be done by tomorrow,” the government official added.
The announcement came as President Enrique Pena Nieto said he would make the most stringent crackdown on illegal immigration in the nation’s history as he vowed to fight the wave of migrants crossing the border in the first few months of next year.
The country’s migrant crisis is the biggest since World War II and has drawn attention from global leaders.
Mexicans have been struggling to cope with a surge of undocumented migrants who have made the treacherous journey across the border to seek asylum in the United States.
The government says migrants with criminal records are the biggest threat to public safety.
Mexico’s interior minister said last week that at least 1,400 people had died attempting the treacherous crossing to the United State since January.
In the first three months of 2017, the government has deported more than 10,000 migrants, including at least 613 children, according to government data.