Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas are meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday to discuss the “unprecedented” migration in the hemisphere just as migrant numbers are breaking records in the U.S. and a new caravan is moving north.
Blinken is traveling to Mexico City, where he will join Mayorkas and White House Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall, in a meeting with Lopez Obrador.
The State Department said that the officials will discuss “unprecedented irregular migration in the Western Hemisphere and identify ways Mexico and the United States will address border security challenges, including actions to enable the reopening of key ports of entry across our shared border.”
“Secretary Blinken will reaffirm the United States’ commitment to the Los Angeles Declaration for Migration and Protection, and underscore the urgent need for lawful pathways and additional enforcement actions by partners throughout the region,” the State Department said.
The LA declaration was unveiled last year and involved commitments from multiple nations in the hemisphere to manage the massive migrant wave moving through the region.
The Biden administration has emphasized the importance of regional cooperation to what it sees as a region-wide challenge, as well as the importance of expanding “lawful pathways” for migrants. The U.S. has set up regional processing centers in the region, while significantly (and controversially) expanding the use of humanitarian parole to allow tens of thousands of migrants into the U.S. each month.
However, the crisis, which has dogged the administration since taking office, has continued and has ramped up in recent weeks and months, threatening to shatter additional records.
Fox News reported this week that during the four-day Christmas weekend, there were more than 35,000 migrant encounters, and since Dec. 1, there have been over 250,000 migrant encounters at the southern border — meaning December could break the monthly record for encounters set in September (269,735).
Meanwhile, another migrant caravan, estimated to include over 8,000 migrants, has been making its way through southern Mexico. Caravans regularly make the trip toward the border but often break up before reaching the U.S. with migrants making their own way, boarding trains or settling in Mexico.
Back home, the Biden administration has said it needs more funding from Congress and legislation to fix a “broken” system. It has also said that it is expanding additional lawful pathways while at the same time increasing consequences for illegal entry.
However, Republicans have blamed the crisis on the Biden administration’s policies, including its releases of migrants into the interior, narrowed ICE deportation priorities and the rollback of Trump-era policies like border wall construction and the “Remain-in-Mexico” policy.
While the White House has requested $14 billion in additional border security funding, that request is currently tied up in Washington amid Republican calls for more limits on asylum and the use of humanitarian parole. The White House has said it is open to compromise, but some Democrats have pushed back against any additional limits.
Lopez Obrador has been weighing in on U.S. politics and feuding with Republicans over the border. He recently attacked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for signing a law that allows law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants.
“The Texas governor acts that way because he wants to be the Republican vice presidential candidate and wants to win popularity with these measures,” Lopez Obrador said. “He’s not going to win anything. On the contrary, he is going to lose support because there are a lot of Mexicans in Texas, a lot of migrants.”
In March, after Republicans called for additional actions against Mexican drug cartels, Lopez Obrador announced an “information campaign” against Republicans “for Mexicans who live and work in the United States and for all Hispanics to inform them of what we are doing in Mexico and how this initiative by the Republicans, in addition to being irresponsible, is an offense against the people of Mexico, a lack of respect for our independence, our sovereignty.”
Last week, the Mexican president said the U.S. wants Mexico to do more to stop migrants coming to the border, either by stopping them from getting into Mexico from Guatemala or limiting travel across Mexico by train and bus.
Lopez Obrador said he wants the reduction of sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela and more development aid to countries where migrants are originating in return.
Fox News’ Griff Jenkins and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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