U.S. and Mexican officials have agreed on new immigration policies meant to deter illegal border crossings while also opening up other pathways ahead of an expected increase in migrants following the end of pandemic restrictions next week.
Homeland Security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall spent Tuesday meeting with Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and other top officials, emerging with a five-point plan, according to statements from both nations.
Under the agreement, Mexico will continue to accept migrants from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua who are turned away at the border, and up to 100,000 individuals from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador who have family in the U.S. will be eligible to live and work there.
Despite sharing a 1,951-mile border with the U.S., Mexico had been notably absent from the rollout last week of a fresh set of efforts, including the creation of hubs outside the United States where migrants could go to apply to legally settle in the U.S., Spain or Canada. The first centers will open in Guatemala and Colombia.
The COVID-19 restrictions have allowed U.S. officials to turn away tens of thousands of migrants crossing the southern border, but those restrictions will lift May 11, and border officials are bracing for a surge. Even with the restrictions, the administration has seen record numbers of people crossing the border, and President Joe Biden has responded by cracking down on those who cross illegally and by creating new avenues meant as alternatives to a dangerous and often deadly journey.
Mexico’s support is critical to any push by the U.S. to clamp down at the southern border, particularly as migrants from nations from as far away as Haiti are making the trek on foot up through Mexico, and are not easily returned back to their home countries.