Mexico and the United States discussed ways to protect migrants on Tuesday (March 23), officials said, even as Mexico’s human rights watchdog flagged risks to a new militarized drive to deter Central Americans from entering its territory.
U.S. President Joe Biden sent envoys, including his border coordinator Roberta Jacobson, to Mexico to discuss how to tackle a recent jump in migrant arrivals at the U.S. border that have put the new Democratic administration under mounting pressure.
Led for Mexico by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, the talks highlighted “humanitarian actions” to promote economic development in Central America to mitigate the root causes of migration, the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement.
U.S. officials are struggling to house and process an increasing number of unaccompanied children, many of whom have been stuck in jail-like border stations for days while they await placement in overwhelmed government-run shelters.
Ebrard said after the meeting that talks would be ongoing, and ultimately aimed to agree on measures that would allow people from Central America and southern Mexico to have a “different future” that would remove the need to migrate.
Officials also discussed different mechanisms for “orderly and safe” migration, and the protection of human rights, particularly those of children, his ministry said.
While those discussions were underway, Mexico has also been stepping up operations led by militarized police and soldiers in the south of the country aimed at deterring thousands of Central Americans coming north as they attempt to escape recession, violence and the effects of devastating hurricanes.
Mexico’s national human rights commission (CNDH) has demanded the rights of migrants be respected during the new enforcement push, in which security forces are employing drones and night vision goggles to catch people entering the country.
There was no immediate comment from the White House on the outcome of the discussions with Mexico. Further U.S. talks on migration are due to take place in Guatemala.
For years, the bulk of people seeking to cross illegally into the United States have come from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and the poorer regions of southern Mexico.
Biden has vowed to adopt a more humanitarian policy towards migrants than his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.
Mexico has welcomed Biden’s efforts, but says the change in policy has also encouraged people to think that it is now easier to enter the United States.
(Production: Josue Gonzalez, Rodolfo Pena Roja, Liamar Ramos)