Migration issue largely avoided in Mexico-U.S. Security talks

MEXICO CITY – The United States and Mexico on Friday began revising an old security agreement to better cope with the flow of criminal a...


MEXICO CITY – The United States and Mexico on Friday began revising an old security agreement to better cope with the flow of criminal activity between the two countries, but those responsible for the high-level talks have pointedly sought to avoid collapsing focus on the ever-growing migratory crisis on their common border.

This was a striking omission, given the thousands of people, mostly from Central America and the Caribbean, crammed on the Mexican side of the border, many in squalid camps, seeking entry into the United States.

And that underlined the inertia in the two governments to find a comprehensive solution to the management of the crisis, especially after the The United States Supreme Court rejected in August President Biden’s efforts to let some migrants in by relaxing asylum restrictions imposed by the Trump administration.

Instead, senior diplomats and immigration, defense, economic and justice officials from Mexico and the United States began discussing a replacement for the Merida Initiative on Friday, a security agreement signed in 2008.

This pact saw millions of dollars in arms flowing from the United States government to its counterparts in Mexico and Central America as part of a larger plan to fight drug trafficking. But he failed to dismantle criminal organizations or restore security; instead, since signing the agreement, Mexico has experienced some of the worst violence he has ever seen.

Immigration was not completely ignored on Friday: both sides said the migrant crisis was discussed during talks, including over breakfast with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told a press conference that collaboration between the United States and Mexico in managing migrants “has never been stronger” and suggested that the two countries would call on other regional leaders to help them, in part by focusing on the larger economy. and the social issues behind migration.

“We want the relationship between Mexico and the United States to be more, much more than immigration and security,” Blinken said.

But officials said the new security deal will focus on how to stop human traffickers and other criminal smugglers instead of the larger problem of refugees and economic migrants stuck at the border.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the new bilateral deal – a three-year deal expected to be reached in January – could be a solid framework to create more jobs in Mexico and Central America while strengthening the security cooperation. By focusing on development, Mexican officials believe the new deal could also help stem migration to the United States.

“For Mexico, it is a priority to reopen activities at the border,” Ebrard said, referring to a decision taken last year by the United States to close land crossings at the border with the Mexico to stem the spread of the coronavirus. “They know it’s a priority, but that was not the goal of today’s meeting.

On Friday in Washington, 15 Democratic Senators and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont urged Mr. Blinken and Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Homeland Security Secretary, to ensure that Haitian migrants are protected – both those who attempt to enter the United States and those deported. Recent footage of U.S. Border Patrol officers on horseback rounding up Haitian migrants in Texas has sparked widespread anger and called attention to a failing immigration system.

“Ensuring the integrity of the United States borders is of the utmost importance and is not inconsistent with the fundamental duty to respect the dignity, humanity and rights of all persons seeking entry into the United States,” wrote senators in a letter on Friday.

The Biden administration on Friday raised the refugee admission target to 125,000 for 2022. “A strong refugee admission program is the cornerstone of the president’s commitment to rebuilding a safe, orderly migration system. and human, ”Blinken said in a statement.

Mexican officials hope the new security deal will focus less on direct confrontations with drug traffickers and instead look at the causes of drug addiction – treating it as a medical problem, not a criminal one – and tackling economic conditions. disastrous that propel underemployment. young people to join anti-drug organizations.

Part of the Mérida Initiative has focused on what is known as the “pivot strategy” to capture or kill major drug traffickers. But he failed to eradicate the flow of drugs from Mexico and Central America, and the next generation of traffickers were ready to take the place of those captured or killed.

Mexico’s priority in the talks is to find a way to reduce the astronomical levels of violence that have swept the country since the creation of the Merida Initiative. In 2008, 12.6 murders were recorded per 100,000 inhabitants in Mexico; by 2018, that number had climbed to 29, according to World Bank data.

“The Mexicans want to say that we have ended this case, we have ended this case which started a very violent chapter for Mexico,” said Carin Zissis, editor-in-chief of the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas.

The violence is the result of two factors, analysts say: the Mérida Initiative’s focus on all-out war with drug gangs and the lax gun laws in the United States that led to the introduction of thousands of weapons smuggled into Mexico and Central America each year.

During the Obama administration, the United States cut some security funds due to concerns about human rights violations by the Mexican government. These concerns have not abated: last year, the State Department concluded in its annual human rights report that Mexican security forces and other government officials tortured prisoners, made arbitrary arrests, committed acts of violence against journalists and exploited children for labor.

One sign of progress in negotiations, Zissis said, will be whether Drug Enforcement Administration agents are allowed to work in Mexico again. Mexico has withheld DEA agents’ visas since the arrest last year of General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda in California, a former defense minister on suspicion of aiding drug traffickers. The arrest sparked outrage within the Mexican government, which demanded the general’s extradition, then decided to curb cooperation with the DEA.

Ahead of Friday’s talks, Mr. Blinken, Mr. Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland met with the President of Mexico.

“There are other times in history when we have distanced ourselves, but there are also things that unite us,” López Obrador told the presidential palace. “We have to understand each other. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Migration issue largely avoided in Mexico-U.S. Security talks
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