The visit of Mexican Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, to Washington on May 3rd concluded with differences of approaches on migration issues; while the United States opts to reinforce the border, Mexico insists on the need to create jobs in Central America to contain migration.
Less than a week after US President Joe Biden and his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, held talks to address the immigration issue, Ebrard traveled to the US capital to meet with the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, and the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken.
The trip took place at a key moment in light of the possibility that in the coming days U.S. health authorities will lift Title 42, a policy used during the Covid-19 pandemic to deport undocumented immigrants at the border on the spot.
Also, on the eve of the Summit of the Americas, to be held in June in Los Angeles, where the United States hopels to conclude a regional immigration pact.
During the conversation with Ebrard, Mayorkas “emphasized the need for countries in the region to manage their respective borders” and “deport people who do not qualify for assistance,” the Department of Homeland Security stated in a communique.
Mayorkas, who two days ago reiterated his “do not come” message to migrants, explored with Ebrard ways to “intensify these efforts.”
Title 42, the immediate deportation policy
However, the Mexican Foreign Minister later said in a press conference at the Mexican Embassy in Washington that they have not discussed in detail the scenarios that would unfold with the end of Title 42 and affirmed that the United States will send its proposals to Mexico in the next 10 days.
What he did confirm is that that US authorities have expressed their concern because they are facing the “prospect of an increase in the migration flow” if regulations are finally lifted.
In March, an unprecedented record in 22 years was registered in the number of arrests of undocumented immigrants at the US and Mexico border, where 221,000 undocumented immigrants were captured.
At present, the United States automatically deports most of them under Title 42, without giving them the opportunity to apply for asylum, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced its plan to rescind this policy on May 23. The measure was imposed in 2020 under the Trump administration and which Biden has maintained.
However, the plan to end Title 42 is in the hands of a Louisiana judge, who has suspended for 14 days the Administration’s preparations to end this policy.
Whether or not this policy remains in force, the Mexican Foreign Minister insisted that the only way to contain migratory flows is through an investment and development plan that creates jobs in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
“Let’s make a significant investment in Central America. We have been saying this for four years and nothing has been done so far,” highlighted the Mexican Foreign Minister.”
Ebrard himself agreed in 2019 with the Trump Administration to implement the “Stay in Mexico” program, in force today and which obliges US refugee applicants to wait in Mexican territory, in exchange for a joint development plan in Central America that was never implemented.
The Mexican government has so far invested US$100 million in social programs in Central America, while the Biden Administration announced an agreement with private companies to invest 1.2 billion dollars.
The Foreign Minister said that this Tuesday he proposed to his US counterparts to summon a “conference” to coordinate investments of both countries in the region, an initiative that he assures was well received.
Summit of the Americas
Where there was no possibility of agreement was in Mexico’s request for all countries of the continent to attend the Summit of the Americas, since the United States refuses to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, countries of origin of many migrants.
“It would be a very wrong signal if some do not go, especially taking into account that Cuba was present at the last summit in 2015. It is a bit contradictory,” Ebrard said.
However, during a lunch also on May 3rd with businesspeople at the State Department, Blinken defended that the summit should be attended by “democracies” and criticized that Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have “repressive governments that offer a false dilemma between respect for rights and the improvement of peoples’ wellbeing.”