Blinken, Mayorkas Meet With Mexican President Amid Unprecedented Border Crisis

Blinken, Mayorkas Meet With Mexican President Amid Unprecedented Border Crisis

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Customs and Border Protection logged the busiest November on record last month with encounters at the southern border totaling 242,418.

U.S. officials met with the president of Mexico on Dec. 27 to talk about the unprecedented flow of illegal immigrants on the U.S.–Mexican border.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas convened with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico to “discuss unprecedented irregular migration in the Western Hemisphere and identify ways Mexico and the United States will address border security challenges,” according to the State Department announcement.

Mr. López Obrador has expressed his willingness to assist. He has also emphasized the improvement of U.S. relations with Cuba and Venezuela—also sources of migration—as well as the need for increased development aid for the region.

However, just hours before the meeting, Mr. López Obrador said the U.S. Congress should focus on investing in people instead of building walls to secure the border.

Both sides are under pressure to cope with illegal immigration. Previous measures, such as implementing restrictions on travel to Mexico or deporting certain migrants, didn’t reduce the increasing influx, officials said.

In May, Mr. López Obrador declared his readiness to receive migrants from Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and other nations rejected by the United States for noncompliance with regulations establishing alternative legal routes to asylum and other migration categories.

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As the number of migrants rises once more, however, it appears that the agreement, which was supposed to quell a surge in migration following the COVID-19 pandemic, was far from adequate.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) logged the busiest November on record last month with encounters at the southern border totaling 242,418, according to its monthly report.

Nearly 80 percent of those encounters were with illegal immigrants outside ports of entry.

Before 2022, historical CBP data indicate that U.S. border officials had never recorded more than 80,000 encounters in November.

Drug Seizures Also Increase

From October to November, total drug seizures increased by 35 percent, with border agents documenting increases of 55 percent in methamphetamine, 8 percent in fentanyl, and 22 percent in cocaine.

CBP has documented 483,404 encounters since fiscal year 2024 began. Additional personnel and resources have been dispatched to address this ongoing border surge, according to the agency.

Its report notes that global migration remains historically high in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.

A huge group of migrants from Central American countries, Venezuela, Cuba, and other nations moved through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border just a few days before Mr. Blinken and Mr. Mayorkas arrived in Mexico City to work out new rules to control the large number of people trying to get into the United States.

The group left the city of Tapachula, Mexico, which is close to the southern border with Guatemala, on Dec. 24. In what seemed like a repeat of past actions, security forces stood by while the government waited for the marchers to get tired and then gave them a type of temporary legal status that many of them use to keep going north.

Mr. López Obrador expressed his willingness to collaborate with the United States but asked the Biden administration to send more aid to developing nations in Latin America and beyond.

He also asked that the United States ease sanctions on regimes in Cuba and Venezuela, from which approximately 20 percent of the 617,865 migrants encountered in the United States between October and November originated.

“That is what we are going to discuss; it is not just contention,” Mr. López Obrador said at a press briefing on Dec. 22 following a phone conversation the day before with President Joe Biden to pave the way for the high-level U.S. delegation.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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