High-level members of the Biden administration, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, will meet with Mexican officials Friday about updating the security cooperation between the two countries as the White House tracks roughly 20,000 Haitian migrants who are holed up in Columbia waiting to travel to the US border.
The Haitians are “forming a human bottleneck … even bigger than some of the recent migrant logjams on the US-Mexico border,” a senior administration official told the Washington Examiner.
The migrants have gathered in Necocli, a small town on Colombia’s coast, to begin the perilous journey through Panama’s Darien Gap to the US after arriving from Brazil, Chile and other South American nations.
Although the Biden administration has warned them not to come to the US, thousands continue to risk their lives to cross the Darien Gap, a roadless stretch of jungle patrolled by bandits and drug-traffickers.
Panama said that more than 88,000 migrants have entered the country after passing through the Darien Gap this year.
In September, more than 30,000 Haitian illegal immigrants gathered at a squalid makeshift encampment near Del Rio, Texas, after crossing the border.
Blinken is heading up the US contingent to Mexico that also includes Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland and other high level administration officials traveling to Mexico City.
They will meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.
The new accord — known as the US-Mexico Bicentennial Framework for Security, Public Health and Safe Communities — would combat drug trafficking, fentanyl smuggling, money laundering and illegal immigration.
“This dialogue comes at an opportune moment, and it’s opportune because the threats of the 21st century are complex, they are dynamic. They are also threats that we need to confront together. These are threats that are transnational. These are threats that, by definition, know no borders,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at Thursday’s briefing.
“And so that is why this dialogue, the highest-level dialogue to date in this administration of this sort, will build on previous discussions that we’ve had with our Mexican partners, in terms of how to protect our people, how to prevent transborder crime, how to best pursue criminal networks, while also promoting human rights and the rule of law,” he said.
It builds on the Biden administration’s efforts to address the “root causes” of illegal immigration, including crime, violence, poverty and natural disasters.
López Obrador said that would be a focus in the meetings.
“The immigration phenomenon, the immigration problem has to be addressed by creating opportunities for work, well-being in the places where the migrants originate so that before they leave those towns and abandon their families, risking it all, they have the option to work and be happy where they were born, where their people are, where their cultures are,” he said.
Along with the talks with Mexican officials, the administration is also in “very close communication” with Colombia and Panama about stemming the flow of illegal immigrants, the Washington Examiner reported.
“We’re shifting to having a regional conversation,” the official told the newspaper, saying a “collaborative approach” is needed.
“You want a functioning border, but you also want to create alternatives to individuals that are taking that dangerous journey,” the official said.
Part of that would be to ensure countries abide by their responsibilities to hold people while they await their claims for asylum to be processed in the US.
“We’re not just making sure that governments have secured their borders but are also upholding their own asylum and refugee obligations,” the official said.
With Post wires