Officials head to Guatemala and Mexico amid rise in migrants at US border

Officials head to Guatemala and Mexico amid rise in migrants at US border

The Biden administration announced on Monday that two senior officials will travel to Mexico and Guatemala to discuss the increase in migrants attempting to enter the US.

Emily Horne, a spokesperson for the national security council, said Roberta Jacobson, special assistant to the president and coordinator for the south-west border, “will travel to Mexico to engage with Mexican government officials to develop an effective and humane plan of action to manage migration”.

Horne added that Juan Gonzalez, NSC senior director for the western hemisphere, would join Jacobson in Mexico, then travel on to Guatemala to meet with senior officials there and “address root causes of migration in the region and build a more hopeful future in the region”.

Ricardo Zuniga, the state department’s northern triangle special envoy, who was born in Honduras and was Barack Obama’s top adviser on Latin America, will also join the trip.

The announcement comes as border officials report an increase in the number of migrants arriving at the US-Mexican border. Most are fleeing violence, natural disasters and economic hardship in Central America.

The increase has led to Republican criticism of Joe Biden’s immigration policies, as the new president and his administration attempt to handle the situation in a safe and humane manner amid the pandemic.

US officials are struggling to house and process an increasing number of unaccompanied children, many of whom have been stuck in jail-like border stations for days while they await placement in overwhelmed government-run shelters.

The visit was also announced by Mexico’s foreign ministry, which said the talks would take place on Tuesday. Mexico has beefed up law enforcement at its southern border to stem a sharp increase in migrants entering the country to head for the US.

“The main issue to discuss will be cooperation for development in Central America and the south of Mexico, as well as the joint efforts for safe, orderly and regular migration,” Roberto Velasco, the top official at the Mexican foreign ministry for North America, said on Twitter.

Representatives of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac) will also attend the meeting, Velasco said.