Around 15,000 soldiers and National Guard policemen have been deployed by the Mexican government to the U.S. border in a bid to check migration flow from Central America, the country’s defense chief told reporters on Monday.

Mexico pledged to send 6,500 National Guard officers to its southern border previously this month, but Monday’s announcement was the first public confirmation of U.S. border deployments.

Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said at a news conference in Cancun’s Caribbean city that Mexican forces arrested migrants to avoid them from entering the U.S. border. Mexican security authorities had earlier arrested migrants traveling within Mexico but had not stopped them from entering the U.S. border.

“Given that migration is not a crime but rather an administrative violation, we simply detain them and turn them over to the [Mexican immigration] authorities,” said Sandoval, as the AFP news agency reported.

Mexican authorities also said Monday that the border city of Nuevo Laredo was anticipated to begin receiving migrants who have returned from the United States as soon as this week. Under the terms of an agreement between Washington and Mexico City to extend the so-called “remain in Mexico” program, asylum seekers are anticipated to wait on the Mexican side of the border as their claims cross the U.S. court.

Nuevo Laredo could obtain up to 150-200 asylum seekers daily starting Friday, although local authorities said the state of Mexico has not yet verified how many the city will obtain.

“It is a humanitarian issue that we will be attending to within the measure of our capacities,” Nuevo Laredo Mayor Enrique Rivas told The Associated Press. “The federal government must take responsibility for being the ones who took this decision (to accept the program’s expansion). We will continue knocking on doors to find resources. The municipal government is overwhelmed.”

Rivas and Deputy Mayor Raúl Cárdenas Thomae said the shelters of Nuevo Laredo were already overflowing with some 3,000 migrants. They said the city was looking into the possibility of opening another shelter to accommodate the returnees.||75b2ba2d8__

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