US seeks Mexico’s help amid “unprecedented” migrant surge

Washington/Mexico City, Apr 29 (EFE).- President Joe Biden met virtually Friday with Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to discuss crafting a joint strategy to cope with a surge in undocumented migrants crossing Mexico to reach the United States.

The leaders held a “constructive” conversation that focused largely on migration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Last month, authorities intercepted 221,303 undocumented migrants entering the country from Mexico, a 33 percent increase from March and the highest monthly total in 22 years, according to US Customs and Border Protection.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the US has summarily deported most undocumented migrants apprehended on the southern border under Title 42 of the immigration law, which allows for automatic exclusion to stop the spread of infectious disease.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced plans to rescind the Title 42 exclusion on May 23.

But a federal judge in Louisiana ordered the government to put preparations for ending the exclusion on hold pending a final ruling on a challenge brought by Republican-controlled states.

The Biden administration is anxious to avoid a humanitarian crisis at the border ahead of November’s mid-term congressional elections.

But Psaki took pains Friday to emphasize that Biden, unlike Republican predecessor Donald Trump, did not threaten Lopez Obrador with reprisals if Mexico failed to comply with Washington’s requests by curbing the flow of migrants from Central America, Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela, among other countries of origin.

The Mexican president is scheduled to travel next week to Cuba and several Central American countries for talks on addressing the roots causes of irregular migration.

The two heads of state agreed that Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard will visit Washington next Monday “to move forward on matters of cooperation for development” and coordinate positions ahead of next month’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, Lopez Obrador said on Twitter.

Biden has said that forging a regional approach to the migration problem will be his main objective at the summit. EFE llb-afs-mqb/dr

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