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  • World - South America
  • Updated: December 22, 2023

Biden, Mexico president discuss urgent border enforcement

Biden, Mexico president discuss urgent border enforcement

U.S. President Joe Biden gestures during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 13, 2023. (EPA Photo)

United States President Joe Biden and Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke Thursday by phone, according to the spokesman for the White House National Security Council, John Kirby, during a White House press briefing.

"The two leaders agreed that additional enforcement actions are urgently needed so that key ports of entry can be reopened across our shared border," Kirby said.

The administration is also sending a high-level delegation to Mexico City. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas and White House Homeland Security Adviser, Liz Sherwood Randall, will meet with the Mexican president and his team in the coming days, Kirby said.

The White House and Congress have been negotiating a national security package that hinges on increased funding and policy changes to border security. Lawmakers left town this week without reaching a deal, and they are not scheduled to return until the second week in January.

Tens of thousands of migrants have crossed the border in Texas in recent days, prompting U.S. Customs and Border Protection to shut down international rail crossings in Eagle Pass and El Paso on Dec. 18. Migrants have been riding atop freight trains in Mexico north to the U.S. border, and the closures are slowing bilateral trade.

CBP also closed a busy pedestrian crossing at San Ysidro and vehicle crossings in Lukeville, Ariz., and Eagle Pass.

This week in Eagle Pass, Texas, hundreds of migrants waited in the open air on patches of grass cordoned off by U.S. Border Patrol, which has struggled to process the number of people crossing the border and turning themselves in to officers.

At the El Paso, Texas, border over the weekend, dozens of migrant families walked along a border highway in Ciudad Juárez, searching for a place to cross the Rio Grande river to the U.S. side as police trucks and vans belonging to the country’s migration authority slowly patrolled the levy on the south side.

A spokesman for Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, said he did not have enough information on Biden’s conversation with López Obrador to comment. But the Republican governor has sharply criticized the Democratic president's approach to immigration and border enforcement since arriving at the White House.

“Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself,” Abbott said Tuesday in the border city of Brownsville where he signed legislation that allocates $1.54 billion to continue work on then-President Donald Trump's border wall, halted after the change of administrations in 2021.

At the press briefing, Kirby acknowledged the challenging situation.

"The president believes that we’ve got to do better at immigration, and he’s willing to talk and negotiate with members of Congress about immigration policy, just as he is about border security," Kirby said.

The delegation's visit to Mexico City "will really be about getting at the migratory flows and talking to President López Obrador and his team about what more we can do together."

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