Lopez Obrador says that he categoricaly rejects a Biden administration request to set up migrant processing centers in Mexico, where migrants could apply for U.S. work and refugee visas.
“We have been looking at setting up sites in Mexico, because they [the United States] have asked for it,” Lopez Obrador said, according to the Associated Press. “We have not accepted it, first we want to talk to the presidents.”
He was referring to the leaders of 11 countries along the migration routes in the Hemisphere — including Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti and Cuba. They will meet later this month. He did not rule out building the centers in the future, but reportedly said that he would prefer to have centers in countries that are the sources of migration. However, Mexico is a key source of migration to the U.S.
The Biden administration announced earlier this year the establishment of migrant processing centers as part of its efforts to expand “lawful migration pathways.” It marks a key plank of the administration’s plan to tackle the ongoing border crisis, which the administration has noted is Hemisphere-wide.
‘This is a hemispheric challenge that demands hemispheric solutions,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at a press conference in April. “Working with our neighbors in the region, we can and will reduce the number of migrants who reach our southern border.”
The processing centers, one of which has already been established in Guatemala, allows for migrants to be screened to see if they are eligible for refugee status, a variety of humanitarian parole programs and even employment access.
The processing centers will be run by “international organization partners,” officials said in April. The Biden administration has expanded the refugee cap to 125,000 from just 15,000 under the Trump administration. It has also agreed with Mexico to accept refugee referrals of some nationalities from Mexico. In July, the administration said that Mexico would be establishing an “international multipurpose space” to offer “new refugee and labor options for the most vulnerable people who are currently in Mexico.”
Additionally, the administration has parole programs for family reunification and for certain nationalities — including Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Cubans and Haitians — for which migrants could be eligible. Employment pathways could include temporary worker visas, including temporary seasonal and agricultural visas.
But while the administration has touted a number of areas of cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico, there have also been tensions. Lopez Obrador has bristled at Republican calls for military action to take out drug labs, and has called on Hispanics not to vote for Republicans as a result.
Recently, it has protested Texas’ moves to build a buoy barrier in the Rio Grande, and also increased truck inspections at the border that led to delays.
So far, the crisis is only worsening. Sources told Fox News recently that September’s borders numbers exceed 260,000 encounters — marking a new monthly record.
With information from The Associated Press