US President Joe Biden will dispatch envoys to Mexico and Guatemala, his administration announced on Monday, for migration talks as he struggles to contain a surge of migrant arrivals at the US border with Mexico.
White House border coordinator Roberta Jacobson will travel to Mexico for talks with Mexican officials aimed at developing “an effective and humane plan of action to manage migration”, White House spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement.
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The visit was also announced by Mexico’s foreign ministry, which said the talks would take place on Tuesday.
Jacobson will be joined by Juan Gonzalez, the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere, and Ricardo Zuniga, just appointed by the State Department as the Northern Triangle special envoy.
“Special Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Southwest Border, Ambassador Roberta Jacobson will travel to Mexico on March 22 to engage with Mexican government officials to develop an effective and humane plan of action to manage migration,” according to the statement.
Gonzalez will continue to Guatemala to meet Guatemalan officials, as well as representatives from civil society and non-government organisations.
Gonzalez’s aim in Guatemala is to “address root causes of migration in the region and build a more hopeful future in the region”, Horne said.
Zuniga is a Honduras-born US career diplomat, a Cuba specialist, and was a top Latin America adviser to then-President Barack Obama.
Biden’s promise to end former President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies has been complicated by a recent spike in the number of migrants crossing the border illegally.
An uptick in the number of migrants fleeing violence, natural disasters and economic hardship in Central America is testing Biden’s commitment to a more humane immigration policy.
Since Biden’s inauguration, the US has seen a spike in the number of people encountered by border officials. There were 18,945 family members and 9,297 unaccompanied children encountered in February – an increase of 168 percent and 63 percent, respectively, from the month before, according to the Pew Research Center.
El principal tema a tratar será la cooperación para el desarrollo en Centroamérica y el sur de 🇲🇽, además de los esfuerzos conjuntos por una migración segura, ordenada y regular.
— Roberto Velasco Álvarez (@r_velascoa) March 22, 2021
Translation: The main topic to discuss will be cooperation for development in Central America and southern Mexico, in addition to joint efforts for safe, orderly and regular migration.
Mexico has beefed up law enforcement at its southern border to stem a sharp increase in migrants entering the country to head for the United States.
“The main issue to discuss will be cooperation for development in Central America and the south of Mexico, in addition to joint efforts for safe, orderly and regular migration,” Roberto Velasco, the top official at the Mexican foreign ministry for North America, said on Twitter.
Representatives of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) will also attend the meeting, Velasco said.