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U.S. and Mexico High-Level Officials Convene to Tackle Looming Border Crisis

-Editorial

Acknowledging that there is a looming border crisis that cannot be ignored anymore, high-level officials from the U.S. and Mexico met on how to solve the migrant situation that is affecting the southern border. 

Following a phone call between President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and U.S. President Joe Biden, the Mexican president invited U.S. officials to Mexico to discuss human mobility, the rights of Mexican citizens in the U.S., the root causes of migration, and stronger binational cooperation, especially economic and social, to ensure the proper functionoing of the border.

At the president’s instruction and on behalf of the Government of Mexico, Foreign Secretary Alicia Bárcena conveyed an invitation to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and White House National Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall to visit them on Dec. 27. 

Mexico believes that the visit of this high-level delegation will be an opportunity, as part of a frank and respectful relationship, to reaffirm bilateral cooperation on human mobility, particularly regarding regular migration and the expansion of legal avenues for migration to avoid the risks of irregular options.

“As we made clear in Mexico City today, we are committed to partnering with Mexico to address our shared challenges, including managing unprecedented irregular migration in the region, reopening key ports of entry, and combating illicit fentanyl and other synthetic drugs,” Secretary Blinken stated. 

The Government of Mexico reaffirmed the importance of strengthening protection mechanisms for Mexicans in the United States and, while safeguarding mutual interests, insist on the need to reopen border crossings as soon as possible to guarantee dynamic trade flows and enhance the economic relationship. In addition, Mexico emphasized with the U.S. delegation the need for more collaboration to address the structural causes of migration based on the results of the Palenque Meeting.

President López Obrador’s invitation follows up on the understanding reached by both leaders in San Francisco regarding the positive contribution of the Mexican community in the United States and the belief that the only effective response to the immigration issue is to address the structural causes in the countries of origin.

Border Snapshot 

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is processing all noncitizens under Title 8 immigration authorities, and placing noncitizens who cross the border unlawfully into Expedited Removal or Section 240 Removal Proceedings.

Individuals and families without a legal basis to remain in the U.S. are being removed pursuant to CBP’s longstanding Title 8 authorities and are subject to a minimum five-year bar on admission and potential criminal prosecution if they subsequently re-enter without authorization. In coordination with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, since May 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has repatriated over 250,000 individuals, including more than 36,000 individual family members. DHS has removed or returned more individual family members in the last four months than in any previous full fiscal year.

In August 2023, the U.S. Border Patrol recorded 181,059 encounters between ports of entry along the Southwest border. CBP’s total encounters along the Southwest border in August were 232,972.

Recidivism following the end of the Public Health Order under Title 42 has significantly decreased. Among CBP’s 232,972 overall encounters along the Southwest border in August 2023, 11% involved individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, compared to an average one-year re-encounter rate of 14% for fiscal years 2014 – 2019 and a repeat encounter rate of 35% in August of 2022. In April 2023, the last month in which the Title 42 Public Health Order was fully in place, repeat encounters accounted for nearly a quarter, 23%, of overall encounters. The number of unique individuals encountered by CBP along the Southwest border was 164,911 in August 2023.

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