Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Mexican president wants to meet with Biden in Washington on migration, drug trafficking

Published:Friday | September 22, 2023 | 9:21 PM
Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, accompanied by First Lady Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, sends out a symbolical embrace at the start of the annual Independence Day parade in the capital’s main square, the Zocalo, in Mexico City, Saturday, September 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's top diplomat, Alicia Bárcena, said Friday that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wants to travel to Washington D.C. in early November to meet with US President Joe Biden about immigration, development aid and drug trafficking.

The statement comes after a surge in migrants moving through Mexico forced the closure of some US-Mexico border crossings and led Mexico's largest railway company to halt about 60 train runs because so many migrants were hopping aboard freight cars. Most appear to be Venezuelans, and many said they had crossed through the jungle-clad Darien Gap that connects Colombia and Panama.

Bárcena told a news conference in New York that migrant shelters in Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, are 95% full and that the Mexican government is “very worried” about the border closures and the migrant surge, especially given Mexico's rocky relationship with Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

In the past, Abbott has tightened border truck inspections and strung a series of floating barriers in the Rio Grande to try to deter migrants.

Bárcena suggested that more should be done to stem the flow of migrants through the Darien Gap, and that lifting U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuela “could also help us return some people to their home countries.”

There were signs that some in Mexico, too, were getting overwhelmed by the surge in migrants.

Bárcena said about 140,000 migrants were waiting to register for transit or asylum papers in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala, adding “we need reinforcements, because it is impossible to process 140,000 people.”

And early Friday, a few dozen residents who live near an overcrowded migrant shelter in Mexico City briefly blocked traffic on one of the city's main expressways, saying migrants living in the streets outside the shelter were causing problems.

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