WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration has struck a deal with a trio of Central American countries to temporarily escalate security forces to their borders in a bid to curb the wave of immigration at the U.S. border.
The deal comes as the United States saw a record number of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the border in March, and the highest number of border patrols encountered overall with migrants on the southern border – a just under 170,000 – since March 2001.
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Mexico will maintain a deployment of around 10,000 troops, while Guatemala has sent 1,500 police and military to its southern border and Honduras has deployed 7,000 police and soldiers at its border “to disperse a large contingent of migrants. “there. Guatemala will also set up 12 checkpoints along the migratory route through the country.
A White House official said Guatemala and Honduras were temporarily deploying troops in response to a large caravan of migrants that was being staged at the end of March. The Mexican government announced an increase in security and the deployment of its troops in March.
Psaki said that “the aim is to make the journey more difficult and to make crossing borders more difficult”.
She added that the deal was the product of “a series of bilateral talks” between US officials and the governments of Central American countries. While Vice President Kamala Harris has been tasked with leading diplomatic efforts to curb the increase in migration across the U.S. border, Psaki declined to share details of her involvement in the talks and said only that the talks would end. are carried out at “several levels”.
She noted that Roberta Jacobson, who will step down from her role as administration coordinator on the southwest border at the end of the month, was involved in talks.
Rising numbers of migrants at the border are becoming one of the major challenges Biden faces in the first months of his first term.
The numbers rose sharply in Trump’s last year in office, but accelerated further under Biden, who quickly ended many of his predecessor’s policies, including one that made asylum seekers wait. in Mexico for hearings in the United States.
Mexicans made up the largest proportion of people encountered by the US Border Patrol, and nearly all were single adults. Arrivals of people from Honduras and Guatemala were second and third, respectively, and more than half of those from those countries were families or children traveling alone.
Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.