MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican and U.S. officials have agreed to work together more closely to tackle record migration at their shared border, the countries’ governments said in a joint statement on Thursday, a day after high-level talks on stemming record numbers.
Following a visit to Mexico by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the countries said they would seek to strengthen a sponsorship initiative for Venezuelan, Cuban, Nicaraguan and Haitian migrants and look to tackle the root causes of migration.
The delegations, who are set to meet again in Washington next month, also discussed regularizing the situation of beneficiaries of the U.S. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – the so-called Dreamers who were brought into the country illegally as children – and long-time undocumented Hispanic migrants living in the United States.
The talks came after the U.S. temporarily shuttered some border crossings to redeploy agents toward enforcement, sparking a trade slowdown and criticism by Republicans of the Biden administration’s border policies. Immigration and the border are expected to be top issues in the U.S. 2024 elections, where President Joe Biden, a Democrat, is running for a second term.
Earlier Thursday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the two parties had agreed to keep border crossings open after the temporary closures.
“This agreement has been reached, the rail crossings and the border bridges are already being opened to normalize the situation,” Lopez Obrador told a morning press conference.
Lopez Obrador said Wednesday’s meetings with the U.S. delegation were “direct,” and he praised the Biden administration’s relationship with Mexico.
‘FAITH IN GOD’
More than half a million migrants this year crossed the dangerous Darien Gap jungle connecting South America with Central America – double last year’s record – with many fleeing crime, poverty and conflict to seek better prospects in the United States.
The latest of a series of caravans of migrants and asylum seekers, many with small children, is slowly walking across southern Mexico, heading towards the U.S border. Lopez Obrador estimated that the caravan counts some 1,500 people but some activists and local media have put the figure at 7,000.
“We have to have faith in God,” Honduran migrant Marvin Mejias said as he traveled with his son, who has had foot surgery. Mejias said he hoped the governments had reached a deal which would help him enter the U.S. and be able to work there.
Lopez Obrador said the issue of fentanyl, a powerful and deadly opioid that Mexican cartels have been trafficking into the U.S., was “hardly discussed” in Wednesday’s meeting.
The United States has been pressing Mexico to do more to combat fentanyl trafficking, while Mexico has been pushing for stronger U.S. controls to prevent U.S. firearms from reaching the powerful cartels.
(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez and Aida Pelaez-Fernandez in Mexico City and Jose Torres in Escuintla; Editing by Mark Porter and Rosalba O’Brien)