The Biden administration has been quietly urging Mexico to increase its efforts to stem the flow of Latin American migrants, according to a New York Times report Thursday.
This report came the same day that the administration announced plans to share millions of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses with Mexico and Canada.
At Thursday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States was planning to send 2.5 million doses of the vaccine to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada, adding that it was “not finalized yet, but that is our aim.”
During a video call this month with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President Joe Biden asked him whether more could be done to help solve the problem of the migrant surge at the border, Mexican officials and another person briefed on the conversation told The Times.
MORE ON THE BORDER: Biden’s message to migrants: ‘Don’t come over’
The pair also discussed the possibility of the U.S. sending Mexico some of its extra vaccine doses, a senior Mexican official told the newspaper. Mexico has publicly asked the Biden administration to send it doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Both governments cooperate on the basis of an orderly, safe and regular migration system,” Roberto Velasco, director general for the North America region at Mexico’s foreign ministry, said in a statement, referring to the engagement between the two countries on migration and vaccines, according to The Times.
However, Velasco said there was no quid pro quo for vaccines: “These are two separate issues, as we look for a more humane migratory system and enhanced cooperation against COVID-19, for the benefit of our two countries and the region.”
MORE ON THE BORDER: Mayorkas grilled about testing migrants for COVID-19
A Biden administration official declined to comment on discussions with Mexico, but noted to The Times that both countries shared a common goal of reducing migration by addressing its root causes, and said they were working closely to restrict the flow of migrants to the border.
Mexico has agreed to boost its presence on its southern border with Guatemala to impede migration from Central America, one of the government officials said, according to the newspaper. Local Mexican officials too, The Times reported, say their country has lately increased efforts to stop migrants on the northern border with the U.S. also.
MORE ON THE BORDER: Arizona AG: Biden ‘incentivizing’ migrants ‘to break the law and come here’
As The Times noted, there were indications that Mexico’s commitment to stopping migrants might have decreased in the final months of the Trump administration, who would threaten tariffs against Mexican products unless the country acted more to stem the flow of migrants.
Between October and December of last year, the number of Central Americans detained by Mexico dipped, while arrests by the U.S. rose, according to Mexican government numbers and data gathered by The Washington Office on Latin America, a research organization that promotes human rights.
“The likelihood of the outgoing Trump administration threatening tariffs again was low, so there was an incentive for Mexico to go back to its default state of low apprehensions,” said Adam Isacson, a border security expert at The Washington Office on Latin America, according to The Times.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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DHS Secretary Mayorkas Says We Cannot Remove ‘11 Million Undocumented Individuals’ Unlawfully in U.S.
Troubling details were unearthed during the questioning of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas by the Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Grassley asked Mayorkas about a DHS memo from September 30 which reads: “The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen will not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them.”
“Does that reasoning apply to the [1.2] million illegal immigrants who have received due process and been given a final order of removal by an immigration judge?” Grassley asked Mayorkas.
“We cannot remove 1.2 million individuals, nor can we remove more than 11 million undocumented individuals, individuals who are unlawfully present in the United States, who might not have final orders of removal” Mayorkas answered.
Mayorkas also stated that he had issued the due process policy after drawing on “tremendous experience not only as a member of the Department of Homeland Security but as a federal prosecutor.”
Grassley pressed Mayorkas, asking, “should any of them be removed?”
“Of course,” Mayorkas said. “I do believe that individuals who pose a public safety threat, who pose a national security threat, who pose a border security threat, should be removed, and we should be smart and effective in our use of resources, and we should focus on the well-being of our communities and prioritize individuals for removal.”
In his opening statements, Grassley addressed Mayorkas and stated, “When you allow the ACLU and open-borders immigration activists rather than career law enforcement professionals to dictate the terms of your immigration and border policies, then you shouldn’t be surprised when record-shattering numbers of people start showing up at the border to take advantage of that.”
Grassley continued, “When you run DHS like it’s an ‘Abolish ICE’ fan club, you shouldn’t be surprised when you have an illegal immigration crisis on your hands.”
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