Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador asserted that the Biden administration’s immigration policies have contributed to a surge of migrants that has overwhelmed facilities at the southern border in recent weeks.
President Biden reversed several Trump-era immigration measures, loosening restrictions for asylum claimants and ending a policy that required migrants to remain in Mexico while making their case to enter the United States. Lopez Obrador said the changes prompted migrants fleeing harsh conditions in Central America to risk the journey to the border.
“Expectations were created that with the Government of President Biden there would be a better treatment of migrants,” Lopez Obrador said at a press conference. “And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so.”
The Biden administration has resisted calls from GOP lawmakers in recent weeks to declare a crisis at the border and tighten immigration restrictions in response to the surge. More than 15,000 unaccompanied migrant minors are in custody at federal facilities, according to CBS News.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reiterated this week that the southern border is closed. He said the Biden administration has no plans to expel unaccompanied minors who cross the border despite strained capacity at border facilities.
Earlier this week, Biden said he plans to visit the border “at some point.”
US officials were set to meet with counterparts in Mexico and Guatemala for discussions on how best to address the border crisis. Lopez Obrador argued Tuesday that US support for economic development in Central American nations would aid the root cause of the migrant surge.
“People don’t go to the United States for fun, they go out of necessity,” Lopez Obrador said, according to Reuters. “There needs to be support for the development of Central America and the south of Mexico. Particularly Central America.”