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Blinken visits Mexico seeking way forward on migration surge

Blinken told Lula US 'disagrees' with Brazil calling Gaza war genocide: US official
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Mexico on Wednesday in hopes of tackling surging migration, which has become a major political headache for President Joe Biden as he enters an election year.

The unusual Christmas week trip by the top American diplomat was abruptly scheduled as the rival Republican Party presses Biden to crack down on migration as a condition for providing the votes in Congress for one of his key priorities — support for Ukraine.

Around 10,000 people without authorization are trying to cross the southern US border each day, nearly double the number before the pandemic, with a new caravan of hundreds if not thousands of people leaving by foot from southern Mexico on Sunday.

US border authorities have been so overwhelmed that they have suspended several legal crossings to focus on processing migrants.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador discussed migration in a telephone call Thursday with Biden, who agreed to send Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, along with White House homeland security advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall.

Lopez Obrador said Wednesday that Mexico was “helping a lot” on tackling migration.

“We’re going to keep doing it and we want to reach an agreement,” he said at his morning news conference, adding that next year’s US elections were giving fresh impetus to the issue.

“People leave their towns out of necessity and there’s a lot of economic and social crisis in the world. It’s necessary to further promote productive activities and job creation,” Lopez Obrador said.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the US delegation would speak to Lopez Obrador on the “urgent need for lawful pathways and additional enforcement actions” on migration.

Mexico, under agreements with both Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump, has agreed at least temporarily to take in migrants seeking to cross into the United States.

The package proposed by Biden to Congress would also fund 1,300 additional Border Patrol agents to help address migration.

The Biden administration has warned that without a deal, Ukraine will soon run out of weapons needed to repel the nearly two-year-old Russian invasion.

However, Republican hardliners have shown little sign of compromise.

Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Biden next November, is again campaigning on stridently anti-immigrant rhetoric, accusing foreigners of “poisoning the blood of our country,” language that critics pointed out was similar to that of Adolf Hitler.

‘No magic wand’

Andrew Rudman, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, expected Blinken to seek additional support from Mexico to keep migrants within its borders, such as temporary work permits.

“The Biden administration wants to show for its own domestic political reasons that they’re doing everything they possibly can,” he said.

“One of the challenges is that everybody wants a short-term solution to a global, longstanding problem,” Rudman said of migration. “There is no magic wand.”

Most of the migrants are seeking entry, he said, “because they make a rational decision that life for them will be better in the US.”

Migrants have been fleeing Central American countries ravaged by poverty, violence and disasters worsened by climate change.

In recent months there has also been an uptick in migrants heading through Mexico from Haiti, which has been devastated by gang violence and a lack of a functioning government, and from Venezuela, where basic goods have fallen in short supply after years of economic chaos.

Maria Alicia Ulloa, a Honduran who is part of the latest caravan, said that the US and Mexican officials meeting Wednesday should find ways to help the migrants.

“They have to support us because the situation is also critical in our countries,” she said, voicing fears that tougher US-Mexican immigration measures would mean returning to a country beset by crime and unemployment.

“We emigrate with the hope of giving a better life to our children, and a better life to the relatives who remain behind,” she said.

 

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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