EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The president of Mexico will be in Juarez late Friday to talk about the growing problem of cars illegally imported from the United States.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expected to announce an amnesty to allow the owners of 100,000 so-called “crooked” or “chocolate” cars in Juarez to legally register their vehicles next year, the Office of Mayor Cruz Perez Cuellar said.
Juarez and Chihuahua state officials say unregistered cars pose a public safety threat because some are used to commit crimes and it’s impossible to track their current owners. Juarez is known as one of Mexico’s industrial giants, with more than 300 manufacturing plants. But it also has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.
Mexico imposes stiff tariffs on the legal importation of foreign vehicles to protect its domestic automakers, which produce brands such as Ford’s Lobo and Fiesta. Import fees and taxes can add up to 20 percent of the sales price.
But residents of Mexican border cities like Juarez and Tijuana for decades have been skirting the law, purchasing vehicles in Texas and California and just melting into traffic going to Mexico.
The Mayor’s Office said the president’s plan is likely to include an amnesty for the owners of “crooked” cars and a one-time fee of 2,500 pesos (US$125) to register them in Chihuahua and other Mexican border states.
Lopez Obrador is speaking at 5 p.m. at Juarez’s Instituto Tecnologico college. It’ the sixth time during his presidency he visits that border city and the ninth time he’s in the state of Chihuahua.
The president was in Chihuahua City on Friday morning to talk about the efforts of Mexico and the United States to deal with historic flows of illegal immigration. His defense minister also updated the news media on a fatal truck crash that claimed the lives of 54 Central American migrants and left 105 others injured.
Lopez Obrador said the immigration problem “is not solved through coercive practices, but with jobs and social welfare.” He called on the United States to invest in economic development and social programs in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador if it wants to slow down migrant flows.