Matamoros kidnappings lead to renewed calls for immigration reform

man looking at wall
Photo credit Getty Images

The Mexican government said all four Americans who were kidnapped in Matamoros have been found. Two people were found dead; the other two were taken to a hospital in Brownsville.

The FBI said Sunday all four were kidnapped after crossing the border. A family member said all four had traveled to Matamoros from South Carolina for plastic surgery.

The Border Network for Human Rights is based in El Paso and has thousands of members seeking immigration reform. Executive Director Fernando Garcia says this case shows the power cartels hold in Mexico.

"We've been saying for a while Mexico's not a safe place," he said. "There's rampant violence. We've been telling the United States government for many years that Mexico has a situation of violence, corruption and [cartels working with] impunity."

He said the most effective solution would be immigration reform. In January 2023, Customs and Border Protection says agents had 208,086 encounters across the southern border, up from 52,254 in January 2020.

"Most of the migrants, workers and families are coming with good reasons to the United States," Garcia said. "We need to put in a way they can come legally to the country so we don't give business to the cartels."

Garcia said immigration reform would take away cartels' income and power.

He said the U.S. should also work to stop weapons from being smuggled into Mexico. Garcia says cartels have been building relationships with human smugglers because they see a chance to make money by defending smuggling routes.

"We have seen a very clear connection between smugglers and criminal cartels. It's almost as if they have erased that line in Mexico," he said.

Garcia said the U.S. should recognize the level of violence in Mexico and how that violence is affecting American citizens.

"The United States cannot deny that situation," he said. "There are Mexicans fleeing that violence, but the United States has refused to recognize many of them are refugees."

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images