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Migrants have been crossing the U.S. southern border in record numbers, prompting President Biden to seek help from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Mexico increased enforcement, leading to a sharp drop in illegal border crossings by January. However, behind closed doors, some senior Biden officials feel that López Obrador is not doing enough to control his own southern border or police routes used by smugglers. While the Biden administration publicly touts their success in working with Mexico on immigration, some officials believe there is room for improvement.

During President Donald J. Trump’s time in office, he used the threat of tariffs to pressure López Obrador into implementing a crackdown on migration. In contrast, President Biden has taken a different approach, prioritizing cooperation with the Mexican leader rather than confrontation. Mexico has ramped up enforcement measures, including adding immigration checkpoints and increasing personnel, yet the number of migrants arriving at the border remains high, with over two million illegal border crossings in each of the last two fiscal years.

Mexican officials have expressed frustration with American policies, arguing that the U.S. asylum system backlog incentivizes migrants to come to the country. They believe that the responsibility for addressing the migrant crisis rests with the United States. Despite efforts to crack down on smuggling routes, such as raiding hotels and safe houses, migrants are still finding ways to cross the border, often putting themselves in danger in the process. The situation has become a challenging game of cat and mouse for authorities on both sides of the border.

The White House has been pushing Mexico to increase deportations, implement visa restrictions for more countries, and bolster security forces at its southern border. However, deportations from Mexico decreased by more than half last year, and logistical and legal barriers make it difficult for Mexico to deport people en masse. The Biden administration is also urging Mexico to move migrants away from the border to alleviate pressure, but critics argue that this practice can be inhumane, as it forces migrants to trek back north and face dangers again.

Overall, the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico on immigration issues remains complex and challenging. While the Biden administration has sought to maintain a cooperative partnership with President López Obrador, there are concerns among some officials about the effectiveness of Mexico’s efforts to control migration. As migration continues to be a pressing issue for both countries, finding a balance between border security and humanitarian considerations remains a ongoing challenge.

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