US and Mexico seek ways to do more on irregular immigration

In consecutive visits this month, Vice President Kamala Harris and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have conveyed to the most important US partner that the Biden administration is taking a more nuanced approach to immigration than its predecessor, but still asking what more Mexico can do.
US and Mexico seek ways to do more on irregular immigration

New York

Mayorkas said Tuesday at the conclusion of two days of high-level meetings: “We have challenged one another with respect to what more can each of us do to address the level of irregular migration that has persisted for several months.” In May, encounters with migrants at the US-Mexico border inched up from April to more than 180,000, more than double the number in January, according to data from US Customs and Border Protection.
Record arrivals of migrant children have been especially challenging for the Biden administration, as they were for his predecessors, with the US government picking up nearly 60,000 children traveling without their parents across the Mexican border from February to May.
When then President Donald Trump threatened damaging tariffs on all Mexican imports unless Mexico did more to stem the flow of migrants in 2019, Mexico deployed its newly created National Guard to boost enforcement efforts. The Biden administration is taking what Mayorkas called a “multipronged approach” and he rejected any suggestion that the White House had sent mixed messages that could have encouraged more migration to the border.
Harris is leading US efforts to identify and address the root causes of immigration. On her visit to Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month, she urged Central Americans not to try to reach the US border while also trying to give people a sense of hope that would encourage them to stay home.
The Biden administration has struggled to show a more compassionate face on US immigration policies and undo some of Trump's harshest measures while not spurring more migration.
Samantha Power, head of the US Agency for International Development, has been visiting the Northern Triangle countries this week announcing new aid aimed at improving conditions there. Power and Harris have spoken against the endemic corruption in the region and the need for greater economic opportunity.
Mayorkas said other elements of that approach were opening alternative legal pathways to the US, including the expansion of the Central American Minors Program announced Tuesday. The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was expanding a newly revived effort to bring Central American children to the United States to reunite with parents legally living in the country. Trump announced in August 2017 that he was halting the Central American Minors Program in August 2017 in his crackdown on immigration.
The US restarted the programme in March for children from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador who had applied to be paroled into the United States before Trump ended the program. The expansion announced Tuesday makes eligible families whose parents are in the US with various forms of legal status, including green cards and Temporary Protected Status for designated countries afflicted by natural disasters or civil strife.
Parents with pending asylum claims and people who applied for visas for crime victims before May 15 may also be eligible to bring their children from Central America.
The administration didn't say how many people may be covered by the expansion but Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a joint statement that the changes will “dramatically expand” eligibility.
The visits to the region for Harris, Mayorkas and Power were all their first foreign trips for a new administration, sending a message that the region's problems have its attention.

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