US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, on Wednesday, began his talks in Mexico in an effort to find solutions to the problem of the renewed influx of refugees to the border between the two countries, an issue that raises intense political debate in the United States.
This visit, which comes during the end-of-year holidays and is rare, takes place while Republican members of the US Congress are demanding an agreement on immigration with the government of US President Joe Biden, in exchange for their support for a new aid package for Ukraine.
On Thursday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador opened the talks in a closed session with Blinken and his accompanying delegation, which includes the Minister of National Security in charge of especially the Border Police, Alejandro Mayorkas, and the Homeland Security Advisor, Liz Sherwood-Randall.
Lopez Obrador told reporters before the meeting that Mexico was “helping a lot” in addressing the migration problem.
He added, “People are leaving their towns out of need, and there are many economic and social crises in the world. It is necessary to enhance productive activities and create greater job opportunities.”
“We will continue to do this and we want to reach an agreement,” he said, adding that the US elections next year will give new momentum to this issue.
In recent weeks, about 10,000 people a day have tried to cross the border irregularly in the southern United States, about double the number compared to the period before the Covid-19 pandemic. A caravan of thousands of migrants also left southern Mexico on Sunday in an attempt to reach the United States.
The American authorities, unable to deal with this large number, were forced to close border centers to confront immigrants trying to enter irregularly.
The Mexican president, who spoke by phone with Biden on December 21, pledged to strengthen measures to contain migrants in the south of the country on the border with Guatemala.
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that the delegation will discuss with the Mexican president “the urgent need to provide regular immigration routes and strengthen punitive measures.”
After concluding agreements with the administrations of Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, Mexico hosts on its territory migrants seeking to enter the United States.
The former Republican president, who is preparing to face Biden in the presidential ballot in 2024, recently intensified his campaign against immigrants, accusing them of “poisoning the blood” of the United States in statements that his critics considered borrowed from Nazi rhetoric.
In light of this tense political atmosphere, Democrats are trying to find an agreement on immigration with Republicans in Congress in order to approve expenditures worth $61 billion to help Kiev in its war with Moscow.
The White House warned that it would “lack resources” for Ukraine “by the end of the year.”
Within the framework of these negotiations, the Biden administration proposed in particular the creation of 1,300 new jobs in the border police.
Washington will likely ask Mexico to keep a larger number of immigrants on its territory by offering them work permits, according to Andrew Rodman, a researcher specializing in Mexico affairs at the Wilson Center in Washington.
He explains, “The Biden administration seeks to show, for reasons related to domestic policy, that it is making every effort” in this regard. But one of the challenges is that everyone wants an immediate solution to a global problem that has existed for a long time,” stressing that there is no “magic bullet.”
He added, “The majority of individuals immigrate because they made a logical decision that their lives would be better in the United States.”
The bulk of them come from Central American countries ravaged by poverty, violence and natural disasters.
In recent months, there has been an increase in the number of migrants coming from Haiti, which is ravaged by gang violence, and from Venezuela, from which more than seven million people have fled, according to the United Nations, due to the collapse of its economy.
On Tuesday, in Coaltitlán, as part of a convoy that departed from southern Mexico, Agence France-Presse met Maria Alicia Iwa, who came from Honduras, as she said, “to provide a better life for my children.” If she is prevented from reaching the United States, she confirms that she will return to her country “where crime is widespread and there is no work.”