Blinken heads to Mexico as migrant caravan moves toward U.S. border

December 28, 2023

Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to Mexico City on Wednesday, December 27, to discuss a surge in illegal immigration as thousands of migrants trekked through southern Mexico in a mass movement toward the United States, reports The New York Times.

Blinken will meet with Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a time when border crossings have hit record numbers. There have been days this month when the U.S. Border Patrol has encountered more than 10,000 people at the southern border.

Wednesday’s meeting also was set to include Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Homeland Security secretary, and Liz Sherwood-Randall, the White House Homeland Security adviser.

A huge caravan that began its journey north on Sunday, December 24, is a sign of the enormous challenges in stemming the tide of migration. Local officials and news media reports in Mexico estimate that somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 people are making the trip.

The southern border has been a consistent political vulnerability for President Joe Biden, who promised on his first day in office to “restore humanity and American values to our immigration system” after the broad restrictions of the Trump years.

However, Biden has struggled to keep the numbers down, despite trying to institute limits on asylum access at the border and deporting migrants to Venezuela and Cuba.

Although migrant caravans have become a common phenomenon and are usually broken up by the authorities well before they reach the U.S. border, the latest march has received particular attention because of its timing, just ahead of Blinken’s visit.

The caravan—roughly 1,000 miles south of the U.S. border in the state of Chiapas—includes migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela, and Haiti, among other countries.

In November, a smaller caravan dispersed after officials took hundreds of the migrants to local shelters.

Republicans have stepped up their attacks on Biden over the border numbers—a potential vulnerability for the president as he seeks re-election next year.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed a law that authorizes law enforcement officials in his state to arrest migrants who cross without authorization. (El Paso County challenged the measure in federal court last week.)

The U.S. president also has faced pressure from mayors in Democratic cities over the increase in migrants arriving in their cities.

Research contact: @nytimes