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Zahit Salazar used to earn a little money selling clothes she bought near the southern border with Mexico. But Mexico's new checkpoints have made that too difficult. She's had to fall back on grinding corn to make tamales. Credit: Jennifer Collins
Zahit Salazar used to earn a little money selling clothes she bought near the southern border with Mexico. But Mexico's new checkpoints have made that too difficult. She's had to fall back on grinding corn to make tamales. Credit: Jennifer Collins

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Originally broadcast by PRI's The World on October 27, 2014See Original Version.

Jennifer Collins reports for PRI’s The World that new immigration check point along the Southern border of Mexico are costing locals their livelihoods. Listen HERE.

Now, it can take all day — because of the checkpoints. She has to pass through at least 10 of them from five different government agencies.

“You waste more time on the freeway,” Salazar says. “More time is lost.”

Over the past few years, Mexico has ramped up its efforts to slow illegal activity — drug trafficking and unauthorized migration — along its 541-mile southern border with Guatemala. With help from the US government, Mexico has set up checkpoints near the border. It has also set up checkpoints on the highway stretching more than 100 miles north of the border, which has given rise to reports of endless commutes and extortion by corrupt officials. Salazar and other locals say Mexican officials use the checkpoints to line their own pockets.

“They are the criminals,” she said. “They say they’re ending corruption but they’re the corrupt ones.”