Antony Blinken leads officials to Mexico as US seeks to stem migration

Antony Blinken
Image caption,US Secretary of State will lead the US delegation to meet President Andrés Manuel López Obrador

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador are holding talks, as a growing migration crisis causes chaos on their shared border.

The high-level meeting comes as pressure grows on the White House to stem the influx of migrants to the US.

US Border officials said last week that up to 10,000 people were crossing the southern border every day.

Mr Lopez Obrador is willing to limit people crossing Mexico towards the US.

But speaking ahead of the summit in his country’s capital, Mexico City, he called for more efforts to address the root causes of migration and warned that it could become a key issue in the 2024 US election.

Former president Donald Trump has taken an increasingly hard-line stance on the border and will reportedly unleash a massive crackdown on undocumented migrants if returned to office next year.

“We have to take care, because campaigners use this issue as a rallying cry,” Mr Lopez Obrador told reporters. “It is more efficient and more humane to invest in the development of the people and that is what we have always proposed.”

Wednesday’s meeting comes after Mr Lopez Obrador and President Joe Biden agreed in a phone call last week that urgent action was needed to address border security.

Mr Lopez Obrador told reporters after the call that Mexico was “going to help, as we always do” to tackle the flow of migrants to the US.

In a statement earlier this week, the state department said the meeting in Mexico City, which will also include Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, would focus on “unprecedented irregular migration in the Western Hemisphere and identify ways” each country can address border security challenges

But it comes as record numbers of migrants cross into the US from Mexico. The number of people apprehended at the US southern border exceeded two million, both in the 2022 and the 2023 fiscal years.

US Customs and Border Protection [CBP] officials said in a statement on Friday that there were more than 190,000 apprehensions in November alone.

The figures have become a political vulnerability for Mr Biden, with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives refusing to allocate new military funding to support Ukraine without a commitment to reinforce the border.

“We are facing a serious challenge along the southwest border and CBP and our federal partners need more resources from Congress – as outlined in the supplemental budget request – to enhance border security and America’s national security,” Troy Miller, acting head of US Customs and Border Patrol, said on Friday.

And the meeting comes as attention in US media has turned to a migrant caravan of about 7,000 people which is making its way towards the US from southern Mexico.

The caravan left from the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, near the country’s southern border with Guatemala, on Christmas Eve. Its leaders carried a banner reading “Exodus from poverty”.

So far, the caravan – reportedly made up of migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela, Haiti and other countries – is about 1,000 miles south of the US border.

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