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  /  News   /  Mexico to help US keep migrant flows under 4,000 a day

Mexico to help US keep migrant flows under 4,000 a day

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Mexico says it will help the United States keep migrant crossings under 4,000 a day at its Southwest border – a move aimed at reining in a years-long humanitarian crisis bedeviling both countries.

Mexican officials are holding talks with seven “migrant expelling” countries in the Western Hemisphere to discuss lawful pathways to the United States, economic assistance, jobs in Mexico, repatriation flights and a possible loosening of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba.

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“Migration is no longer a problem between the U.S. and Mexico. No, it is a problem that goes beyond that. We must have a regional vision because most (migrants) that pass through Mexico are not Mexicans,” Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena said at Tuesday’s unveiling of the “Mexican Human Mobility” plan. “We need to have a tighter relationship, so the U.S. and Mexico jointly address migration.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection data shows agents have apprehended 304,540 Mexican nationals at the Southwest border since Oct. 1, compared to more than 700,000 migrants from other countries. In addition, 81,140 Mexicans and more than 227,000 citizens of other countries have been detained or presented themselves for asylum appointments at U.S. ports of entry in California, Arizona and Texas.

“In our (Mexico’s) northern border, we have committed to the United States to achieve a reduction of the flow to the border, so the number does not exceed 4,000 a day. They (U.S. officials) have the capacity to manage the crossing of 4,000 people along their border, but no more than 4,000,” Barcena said.

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The El Paso Sector alone in May 2023 was holding 6,200 migrants at its processing centers. Late last year, Arizona processing facilities were so overwhelmed they were sending newly encountered migrants to El Paso for processing.

A group of men detained by U.S. Border Patrol after crossing the border wall in the Tucson Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border, are processed at a makeshift intake center, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near Lukeville, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The Mexican foreign minister said the initiative began taking shape in December. That month set records in terms of unauthorized crossings both in the U.S. and Mexico. Ministry officials have since met with representatives of Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba and other Western Hemisphere countries.

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Barcena attributed the migration to “failed economic models” that keep people in poverty, foster violence and have not addressed climate change that prompts people to abandon farming. She says U.S. sanctions on some countries also contribute to this.

“We are fighting for the elimination of sanctions and other political factors that hurt people; sanctions to Venezuela and Cuba don’t necessarily affect the ruling class, they affect the people. That is one of the things we are advocating” with the U.S. government, she said.

The U.S. government restricts business transactions with certain Venezuelan companies and has targeted some officials with the Nicolas Maduro regime for individual sanctions, according to an April 24 Congressional Research Service report. The United States also maintains a comprehensive economic embargo on Cuba.

Migrants from both those countries have show up at the U.S. border in the past four years by the tens of thousands.

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Barcena said Mexico has absorbed 40,000 foreign nationals into its labor force since 2017 and is willing to absorb more at its manufacturing plants in border cities like Juarez, Tijuana, Nuevo Laredo and others.

She says Mexico is also lobbying the Biden administration to substantially increase aid to Latin America.

Visit the homepage for the latest exclusive stories and breaking news about issues along the U.S.-Mexico border

“They talk about $95 billion in aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, but what about our hemisphere? They (the Biden administration) announced $87 million for Guatemala, but that is nothing compared to what they could be contributing to programs that address the (root) causes” of migration, Barcena said.

U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, said it’s not enough for the Biden administration to aim for a reduction in illegal immigration.

“Anything other than zero, the answer is no,” Gonzales said. “If you want to have a conversation on legal immigration, let’s have that conversation, but do not mix the two. We should all be against illegal immigration and that number should always be zero.”

Reducing unauthorized daily border crossings from December’s 8,056 to the target of 4,000 still comes out to 1.46 million illegal entries per year.

The Mexican Human Mobility plan includes empowering Mexican citizens living abroad. Mexico is calling on the United States to legalize 5 million Mexican citizens who have lived without authorization there for more than five years while contributing to the prosperity of the U.S. economy.

Mexico for a long time has been advocating for the legalization of its citizens who migrated to the United States, but now appears to want to take an international leadership role, said Yael Schacher, director for the Americas and Europe for Refugees International.

“Now things are complicated. Mexico now sees itself as a regional power, holding alternative summits in the Americas with Cuba and Venezuela. Mexico sees a new role in the Americas and the United States needs to deal with that,” Schacher said this week at a forum sponsored by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.