Top Biden Officials Visit Mexico to Discuss Illegal Migration While Kamala Harris Relegated to Phone Duty
Senior U.S. officials made a surprise visit to Mexico Tuesday to discuss bilateral cooperation on reducing illegal migrants crossing into the U.S. in record numbers.
Notably missing from the trip was Vice President Kamala Harris, charged by President Joe Biden to work with Mexico and Central America on addressing alleged “root causes” driving migrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle (NT) countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. illegally.
The White House did not provide a readout of the meeting until a day after the event. Americans and the rest of the world learned of the high-level event from social media posts by the Mexican foreign ministry highlighting the event as it was occurring.
Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas led the delegation to meet with President Andrés Manuel López Abrader (AMLO), Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, and Attorney General Gertz, among other senior officials.
“The delegations agreed to expand cooperation in order to manage orderly, safe, and regular migration flows with respect for the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers,” the Mexican foreign ministry declared in a statement following the meeting.
The White House added:
Officials underscored the importance of fostering development in southern Mexico and Central America to address the root causes of irregular migration, and will work toward deeper collaboration within the Root Causes Strategy [crafted by the vice president]. They discussed current irregular migration flows and committed to jointly managing safe, orderly migration that respects human rights.
Although she missed the U.S. visit to Mexico City, Harris spoke with AMLO the day before the Biden officials left to reportedly emphasize that addressing the “root causes” of migration in the NT region remained a top priority for the Biden administration.
National Security Advisor to the Vice President Amb. Nancy McEldowne was among the U.S. representatives who visited Mexico Tuesday as well as National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere, Juan Gonzalez. Biden’s Special Envoy for the Northern Triangle Department’s Ricardo Zuniga and two other U.S. officials were also there.
While briefing reporters before Tuesday’s meeting, Foreign Secretary Ebrard said the discussions would cover efforts to reopen the U.S.-Mexico border in addition to proposals from the Biden administration aimed at containing immigration from Central America.
However, during the first nine months of fiscal year 2021, the latest Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data available shows the number of Mexicans (479,376) encountered by U.S. border authorities along the southwest border exceeded the migrants from the three NT countries combined (452,494) caught during the same period.
Neither the White House nor the Mexican foreign ministry highlighted the growing number of Mexican migrants or the increasing number of U.S.-bound extra-continentals reaching America’s southern border Tuesday.
Nevertheless, during a high-level meeting hosted by Panama Wednesday, representatives from across the Western Hemisphere, including the U.S. and Mexico, discussed the crisis unfolding along the deadly and lawless Darien Gap jungle that straddles the Colombia-Panama border and separates South from Central America.
Arranca la reunión de alto nivel para abordar de manera integral el desafío de la #MigraciónIrregular en la región.
Diez países del continente buscamos compromisos para garantizar paso seguro y controlado a los migrantes y soluciones sostenibles a este fenómeno global. pic.twitter.com/CB1Lgbzktt
— ErikaMouynes (@ErikaMouynes) August 11, 2021
Mexico’s foreign ministry publicly announced its participation in the event.
Uzra Zeya, the American representative, is the undersecretary for civilian security and human rights at the State Department, which recently admitted to Breitbart News that it provides aid to U.S.-bound migrants transiting through Darien jungle from Colombia to Panama to help them continue with their journey towards the United States.
Extra-continentals refer to individuals from places far from the U.S. borders, including the Caribbean, South America, and countries outside the Western Hemisphere.
Officials from Panama and Colombia — long-time transit points for extra-continentals trying to reach America — have warned in recent months of an unprecedented wave of thousands of global migrants heading to the U.S.
It is unclear if the U.S. and Mexican officials discussed the issue in private during their meeting Tuesday.
Harris’s first foreign trip as VP to visit Guatemala and Mexico to promote her Biden-tasked mission in early June was a disaster, drawing the ire from Republicans, Democrats, the White House, pro-immigration advocates, and other critics.
Since her trip, Biden has mainly deployed Special Envoy Zuniga and Mayorkas to discuss immigration issues in Latin America, keeping the VP out of the region.
Harris has made no measurable progress on her assignment. She released a strategy to achieve her mission in July, months after Biden gave her the project.