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Mexico says US agrees to keep border crossings open

By AFP - Dec 30,2023 - Last updated at Dec 30,2023

Migrants warm themselves next to a bonfire in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, Mexico, on Thursday (AFP photo)

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday that visiting US officials had agreed to keep legal border crossings open, following discussions aimed at addressing surging migration.

Lopez Obrador met for more than two hours with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top US officials including Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday.

"There's more and more movement on the border, on the bridges, and that's why we must be careful so that the crossings are not closed. That agreement was reached," Lopez Obrador told reporters.

"The crossings for the railway and border bridges are already being opened to normalize the situation," he added, highlighting the strong trade ties between the two countries.

He said the two sides had agreed to hold regular meetings to address increasing migration, which has become a major headache for US President Joe Biden as he enters an election year.

Earlier this month, overwhelmed American authorities closed two rail bridge crossings on the Mexico-US border in Texas for several days to try to limit illegal entries on freight trains.

Legal crossings have also been suspended at several vehicle and pedestrian entry points in the states of Texas, Arizona and California to free up resources to address undocumented arrivals.

US border police have in recent weeks reported approximately 10,000 crossings by migrants every day, many of them fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.

There has also been an uptick in migrants traveling through Mexico from Haiti and Venezuela.

Blinken’s unusual Christmas week visit came as the rival Republican Party presses Biden for a migration crackdown in return for their agreeing in Congress to support for Ukraine.

In a joint statement released by the White House on Thursday, the United States and Mexico “reaffirmed their existing commitments on fostering an orderly, humane and regular migration”.

That included addressing the “root causes” of migration such as poverty, inequality and violence, it said, an approach repeatedly requested by Lopez Obrador.

“Ongoing cooperation also includes enhanced efforts to disrupt human smuggling, trafficking, and criminal networks, and continuing the work to promote legal instead of irregular migration pathways,” the statement said.

“Also, both delegations agreed on the importance of maintaining and facilitating the vital bilateral trade at our shared border,” it said, adding that the two sides would meet again in Washington in January.

 

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