Some Democratic lawmakers, particularly in border districts, have criticized Joe Biden’s immigration policies, but now concern is coming from south of the frontier.
Reuters reports Mexican leaders, including left-wing president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, fear the Biden administration is stoking illegal immigration and creating business for organized crime.
Central American nations, said Lopez Obrador, “see Biden as the migrant president, and so many feel they’re going to reach the United States.”
“We need to work together to regulate the flow, because this business can’t be tackled from one day to the next, the Mexican presidentsaid the day after his March 1 virtual meeting with Biden.
Reuters reported internal assessments, based on testimonies and intelligence gathering, state that amid U.S. measures that “incentivize migration,” Mexican gangs are diversifying methods of smuggling and winning clients.
Apprehensions on the U.S.-Mexico border in February were the highest for that month in 15 years.
A Mexican official familiar with migration developments who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said organized crime began changing its methods “from the day Biden took office” and now exhibit “unprecedented” levels of sophistication.
Assessments obtained by Reuters show that includes “briefing clients on the latest immigration rules, using technology to outfox authorities and disguising smuggling operations as travel agencies.”
“Migrants have become a commodity,” the official said, arguing they were now as valuable as drugs for the gangs. “But if a packet of drugs is lost in the sea, it’s gone. If migrants are lost, it’s human beings we’re talking about.”
Reuters said higher concentrations of migrants in border areas have encouraged gangs to recruit some as drug mules. Other migrants have been kidnapped for ransom.
Mexican officials, nevertheless, have praised Biden for offering a pathway to citizenship to most of the millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S. who are of Mexican origin.
At the White House on Thursday, Fox News correspondent Peter Doocey asked press secretary Jen Psaki if Biden considers the Mexican president labeling him a “migrant president” is a compliment.
Psaki, indicating she hadn’t heard the quote, asked for “context.” After Doocey read the rest of Lopez Obrador’s published remarks, she emphasized the “vast, vast majority of people who come to our border are turned away.”
See the exchange during the White House press briefing: