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U.S. Secretary of State Holds Talks with Mexican President to Address Migrant Surge at Southwest Border

In a diplomatic effort to tackle the escalating migrant surge at the U.S. southwestern border, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The discussions focused on finding ways to limit the influx of migrants and address the challenges faced by both nations.

President López Obrador expressed his willingness to assist in addressing the issue but highlighted the importance of progress in U.S. relations with Cuba and Venezuela, which are major sources of migration. Additionally, he emphasized the need for increased development aid for the region.

On Monday, Mexico’s key priority was urging the U.S. to reopen border crossings that had been closed due to the surge in migrant numbers. Foreign Relations Secretary Alicia Bárcena stated, “We spoke about the importance of the border, and about the economic relationship…the importance of reopening the border crossings, that is a priority for us.”

The talks come amid both nations facing pressure to reach an agreement, as past measures such as limiting direct travel into Mexico or deporting migrants failed to curb the influx. In recent weeks, up to 10,000 migrants were being arrested daily at the southwest U.S. border, straining resources and posing logistical challenges.

The U.S. has encountered difficulties processing and housing the increasing number of migrants, leading to the temporary closure of vital Texas railway crossings and disruptions in border operations. Blinken suggested the possibility of reopening these crossings contingent upon increased cooperation from Mexico.

Mexico reported detecting 680,000 migrants moving through the country in the first 11 months of 2023, deploying over 32,000 military troops and National Guard officers—approximately 11% of its total forces—to enforce immigration laws. However, the effectiveness of these measures was brought into question when a National Guard detachment made no attempt to impede a caravan of around 6,000 migrants at an immigration inspection point in Chiapas state.

President López Obrador confirmed U.S. officials’ desire for Mexico to enhance efforts at its southern border with Guatemala and implement measures to hinder movement within Mexico. In return, he sought increased U.S. development aid for migrants’ home countries and advocated for a reduction or elimination of sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela.

As discussions continue, the complex challenge of managing the migrant surge at the U.S.-Mexico border underscores the need for collaborative solutions and diplomatic measures to address the root causes of migration.