Mexico’s president said Wednesday that the U.S. Congress should offer more support to Latin America instead of erecting barriers and “building walls,” shortly before meeting with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken at the subject of an increase in migration.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also said next year’s presidential election in the United States would put migration at the top of the agenda.
“The migration issue will intensify,” he said.
Mr. Blinken was heading to Mexico on Wednesday at a time when border crossings had reached record numbers. There were days this month when the U.S. Border Patrol encountered more than 10,000 people at the southern border.
A huge caravan that began its journey north on Sunday reflects the enormous challenges of stemming the migratory wave. Local authorities and Mexican media estimate that 6,000 to 10,000 people will make the trip.
The southern border has been a constant political vulnerability for President Biden, who has struggled to keep the numbers low despite his attempts to impose limits on asylum seekers’ access to the border and expel migrants to Venezuela and Cuba.
Immigration has also become central to discussions in Congress over aid to Ukraine and Israel, as Republicans have refused to approve the money without a new border crackdown.
Mr. López Obrador said Congress should think about “how to authorize resources for cooperation and support for the poor people of Latin America and the Caribbean, instead of erecting barriers, barbed wire on the river or thinking to build walls.
“It is more effective and more humane to invest in the development of people,” he said.
Wednesday’s meeting will also include Alejandro N. Mayorkas, secretary of homeland security, and Liz Sherwood-Randall, White House homeland security adviser.
The migrant caravan made headlines in part because of its timing, just before Mr. Blinken’s visit. Migrant caravans have become a common phenomenon and are usually dispersed by authorities long before they reach the U.S. border.
The caravan, located about 1,000 miles south of the U.S. border in Chiapas state, includes migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela and Haiti, among other countries.
In November, a smaller caravan dispersed after authorities took hundreds of migrants to local shelters.
Republicans have stepped up their attacks on Mr. Biden over the border numbers, a lingering issue for the president as he seeks re-election next year. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law allowing his state’s law enforcement agencies to arrest migrants who cross the border without authorization. (El Paso County challenged the measure in federal court last week.) The president has also faced pressure from Democratic city mayors over the increase in migrants arriving in their cities.
The increase in border crossings in recent weeks has forced border officials to temporarily close rail crossings at El Paso and Eagle Pass, Texas, and close the port of entry at Lukeville, Arizona. While the rail crossings are reopened, Biden administration officials plan to talk to Mexican officials about closing ports of entry, officials said in a statement.
Last week, Mr. López Obrador briefed reporters on a call with Mr. Biden in which they agreed on the need to strengthen border controls.
“Now we find ourselves in an extraordinary situation because the number of migrants passing through our country with the aim of reaching the United States has increased,” he said, adding that Mexico “was going to help, as We still do it.”
Mr. López Obrador said he shared with Mr. Biden the goal of strengthening containment measures in southern Mexico so that migrants and asylum seekers do not reach the border.
The other necessary element, he added, is to try to address the root causes of migration and help resolve political differences in the region.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced Friday that there were more than 190,000 apprehensions between ports of entry in November. U.S. officials said they “expelled or returned” more than 400,000 people between May and the end of November.
“We face 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 strengthen security. borders and American national security,” said Troy Miller, the party’s interim leader. border agency, said in a statement Friday.
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