Mexico and the United States arrested more than 7,000 human smugglers in the last six months, said U.S. President Joe Biden.
Biden gave this information in a message at the end of the 10th North American Leaders’ Summit, held in Mexico City on Tuesday.
“We are working together to address the scourge of human smuggling and illegal drug trafficking. In the last six months alone, our joint patrols in Mexico have resulted in the arrests of more than 7,000 human smugglers,” Biden said.
He then added, “And we have seized more than 6,000 kilograms of deadly fentanyl at the border.”
Since April 2019, according to a U.S. congressional analysis, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has taken a tougher line toward migration, in part due to pressure from the United States.
His government has increased migrant apprehensions and restricted access to humanitarian visas, particularly for those traveling in large groups (caravans).
As in previous waves of enforcement, migrants have taken more dangerous routes and increased their reliance on smugglers.
After Mexico deployed its new National Guard for immigration enforcement in 2019, reports of mistreatment of migrants increased, according to the same analysis.
In one incident in January 2021, state police reportedly killed 19 people, including Guatemalan migrants, near the US border.
In 2021, Mexico tried to keep asylum seekers in southern Mexico despite terrible conditions there; began requiring visas for those from Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela; and expelled some Haitian migrants to Haiti and Central Americans to Guatemala.
“On my way here, I stopped in El Paso, Texas, to see the situation with my own eyes and meet with U.S. border security officials. The situation is straining communities in both Mexico and the United States.
“We are working together to meet this challenge in a way that respects the laws of our countries and protects the human rights of migrants facing desperate circumstances,” Biden said Tuesday.
On drugs, he expanded on his remarks: “And today we talked about how the three of us can continue to deepen and strengthen our shared efforts to cut off the flow of illegal fentanyl, including by addressing the precursor chemicals used in synthetic drugs, going after the labs where they’re made and the stash houses where they’re stored.”