By Manuel Ayala
Tijuana, Mexico, Jan 7 (EFE).- Migrants and their advocates in this border metropolis are hoping that upcoming talks between the presidents of Mexico and the United States will result in meaningful – albeit modest – changes to immigration policy.
Joe Biden is due in Mexico City next week for the North American Leaders Summit with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
En route to the summit, Biden will visit the US-Mexico border for the first time since becoming president two years ago amid a rising clamor from his Republican opponents over the “crisis” caused by the flow of migrants pursuing the American Dream.
“We left fleeing the violence there is in our village,” Jorge, who arrived in Tijuana this week from the western Mexican state of Michoacan with his wife, two grown sons and a pregnant daughter-in-law, told EFE Saturday.
He said it is “important” that Lopez Obrador and Biden take into account “all of us who have to leave our land and patrimony because of threats.”
While acknowledging the needs of the migrants from many others countries who trying to reach the US via Mexico, Jorge said that “the Mexican president must do more to look out for his people, because if he is not going to end the violence now, at least let them help us get asylum in the United States.”
Raul, one of Jorge’s sons, said that though he would have liked his son to grow up in the village as he and his brother did, life there became impossible as criminals threatened to kill Raul if he did not agree to work for them.
“And I didn’t want that for my family,” he told EFE.
The Rev. Albert Rivera Colon, director of the Agape Mision Mundial migrant shelter in Tijuana, said of Mexican authorities that “we must give them the benefit of the doubt.”
Even so, he added, “sometimes it seems that it even suits them that there are more displaced people for the remittances.”
(Money wired home by expats represents a major source of income for Mexico.)
Rivera said that if he could speak to Biden, he would ask him to spare a thought for the thousands of families waiting months on the Mexican side of the border for their asylum requests to be considered.
“Because they are also at risk here, we have had people who have been here continue to be threatened by the cartels,” he said.
The pastor called on the Mexican government to improve its communications strategy.
“That is badly needed, that there be government support groups that inform (the migrants) and also inform us about all of the processes and accords,” he said.
The region is experiencing a record flow of migrants trying to make their way to the US, whose Customs and Border Protection agency intercepted more than 2.76 million undocumented migrants in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2022.
In the past, Mexicans accounted for most of the undocumented migrants crossing the southern border, but the majority now are from Central America, accompanied by large numbers of Cubans, Haitians and Venezuelans.