Mexico rolls out steps to tighten southern border with Guatemala

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has launched new measures to deter illegal crossings at its southern border with Guatemala, including posting militarized police and using drones to monitor entry points, the national migration institute (INM) said on Friday.

The announcement comes after Reuters reported that Mexico was planning to beef up border enforcement along its southern reaches to stem a sharp increase in migrants illegally entering the country to head for the United States.

Many migrants entering Mexico hope they can claim asylum in the United States. Thousands come from a trio of Central American countries with high levels of violence and poverty.

The INM said the measures were aimed at protecting the rights of children from Central America who were being used by criminal gangs as a means of facilitating migrants’ passage north.

Since March 1, the INM said it has registered 4,180 children and teenagers traveling without authorization through Mexico, some with older family members, and some unaccompanied.

The INM said so-called “guides” are telling people to take children along to make it easier to enter the United States.

The tighter measures at Mexico’s border with Guatemala, which also ban non-essential crossings such as tourism, will be in place for a month with the potential to be renewed.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Alistair Bell