US, Mexico see headway on migration as Blinken pays emergency visit

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Top Mexican and U.S. officials said that they made progress Wednesday in emergency talks on curbing a surge in migration, which has become a major headache for U.S. President Joe Biden as he enters an election year.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid an unusual Christmas week visit to Mexico City as the rival Republican Party presses Biden for a migration crackdown in return for agreeing in Congress to one of his key priorities — support for Ukraine.

The day trip was abruptly announced last week after Biden spoke by telephone with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who met for more than two hours with Blinken and other top U.S. officials including Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

Lopez Obrador, writing afterward on X, formerly known as Twitter, said that “important agreements were reached for the benefit of our peoples and nations,” without elaborating.

A senior Biden administration official said that Mexican leaders told the U.S. delegation about new measures they are taking including cracking down on smugglers who are putting migrants on buses or trains to the border.

“We were really impressed by some of the new actions that Mexico is taking, and we have seen in recent days a pretty significant reduction in border crossings,” the official told reporters on customary condition of anonymity on Blinken’s airplane back to Washington.

The official, however, said the United States knows to “never draw conclusions based on day-to-day fluctuations” on migrant numbers and said the countries would stay in close contact in 2024, an election year in both.

The number of people seeking to enter the United States without authorization had shot up this month to around 10,000 a day, nearly double the number from before the pandemic.

Few migrants are Mexicans, with the bulk in recent years fleeing Central America, which has been ravaged by extreme poverty, rampant violence and failing crops worsened by climate change.

There has also been an uptick in migrants heading through Mexico from Haiti, which has been devastated by gang violence and a lack of a functioning government, and Venezuela, where basic goods have fallen in short supply after years of economic chaos.

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