The Biden administration has been quietly pressing Mexico to ramp up its efforts to limit the flow of migrants, clinging to a Trump policy of relying on southern neighbors to enforce America’s immigration agenda.
By Natalie Kitroeff and Maria Abi-Habib
MEXICO CITY — The Biden administration has been quietly pressing Mexico to curb the stream of migrants coming to the United States, urging it to take in more families being expelled by American authorities and to step up enforcement at its southern border with Guatemala, according to Mexican officials and others briefed on the discussions.
President Biden has moved quickly to dismantle some of former President Trump’s signature immigration policies, halting construction of a border wall, stopping the swift expulsion of children at the border and proposing a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the United States.
But he is clinging to a central element of Mr. Trump’s agenda: relying on Mexico to restrain a wave of people making their way to the United States.
Anticipating a surge of migrants and the most apprehensions by American agents at the border in two decades, Mr. Biden asked President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico in a video call this month whether more could be done to help solve the problem, according to Mexican officials and another person briefed on the conversation.
The two presidents also discussed the possibility of the United States sending Mexico some of its surplus vaccine supply, a senior Mexican official said. Mexico has publicly asked the Biden administration to send it doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not been approved for use in the United States.
Mexican officials contend that the efforts to secure vaccines are separate from the negotiations over migration. But they acknowledge that relations between the United States and Mexico, which has suffered one of the world’s deadliest coronavirus epidemics, would be buoyed by a shipment of doses south.
“Both governments cooperate on the basis of an orderly, safe and regular migration system,” Roberto Velasco, director general for the North America region at Mexico’s foreign ministry, said in a statement, referring to the engagement between the two countries on migration and vaccines.
But he said there was no quid pro quo for vaccines: “These are two separate issues, as we look for a more humane migratory system and enhanced cooperation against COVID-19, for the benefit of our two countries and the region.”
A Biden administration official declined to comment on discussions with Mexico, but noted that both countries shared a common goal of reducing migration by addressing its root causes, and said they were working closely to stem the flow of people streaming to the border.
On the question of vaccines, a White House official said the United States was assessing how to provide doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada.
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