As border crossings have soared to record highs, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is quietly pressing Mexico to accept more migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela under a COVID-19 expulsion order that the White House has publicly sought to end, seven U.S. and three Mexican officials said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised concerns about an escalating number of crossings by migrants from the three countries during a visit on Monday to Mexico City, two U.S. and two Mexican officials told Reuters, but Mexico did not promise any specific actions.
One U.S. official said trying to convince Mexico to agree is “an uphill battle.”
All sources requested anonymity to discuss internal government matters.
Mexico already accepts U.S. returns of migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. So far, this fiscal year about 299,000 people from those nations have been expelled at the border, compared to about 9,000 returns from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
The U.S. effort to pressure Mexico on these three particular nationalities illustrates the depth of concern within Biden’s Democratic administration about their border crossings. Most migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela who cross into the United States are allowed to stay to pursue asylum claims since they are difficult to deport due to frosty diplomatic relations with their governments.
Mexico’s foreign ministry declined to comment. A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council declined to discuss “diplomatic conversations” but said that nations in the region “have already begun to take collective responsibility to manage migration flows, including through repatriations.”
U.S. border agents have made a record 1.8 million migrant arrests so far in the fiscal year 2022, with many attempting to cross multiple times, creating humanitarian challenges and political liabilities for Biden ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm election.
Of those arrests at the southwest border, nearly a quarter of the migrants were from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, up from 8% in 2021 and 3% in 2020. Most were let into the United States to pursue immigration cases.