MEXICO CITY — President Biden on Monday claimed that the US and Mexico were “well on our way” to halting the migration crisis at the border — despite record-breaking monthly arrests for illegal border crossings.
Biden’s remarks at a Monday evening meeting in Mexico City with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador came a day after the 80-year-old American leader’s first visit to the southern border since becoming president.
“Today, we’re going to discuss how we can further deepen that relationship not only with Mexico but the Western Hemisphere,” Biden told López Obrador.
“This includes… how we can tackle irregular migration, which I think we’re well on our way to doing,” Biden said.
There were a record-smashing nearly 2.4 million arrests for illegal border crossings in fiscal 2022, which ended Sept. 30, followed by continued records in October and November, the most recent months for which statistics are available.
It’s possible that Biden was thinking about his administration’s recently announced initiative to allow into the US as part of a new “parole” asylum system 30,000 migrants per month combined from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
As part of that plan, Mexico would take back 30,000 migrants per month of those nationalities who illegally enter the US. However, in November there were about 89,000 from the countries, leaving an unaccounted-for surplus — and residents of the four countries made up over 30% of the total flow of migrants.
Biden’s first trip as president to the US-Mexico border got off to a rough start Sunday, as he faced criticism for not interacting with migrants after El Paso officials cleaned up homeless camps, prompting claims Biden visited a “Potemkin Village” that disguised the crisis.
Members of Biden’s Cabinet were in Mexico to join the president for his talks with López Obrador, who is known by his initials AMLO, including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, whose impeachment has been floated by House Republicans in response to the border crisis.
In his own opening remarks, AMLO hailed Biden as a “humanistic president” — after the left-wing leader previously used similar language about Biden to explain why so many migrants are seeking to cross the US-Mexico border.
Biden is in Mexico for the North American Leaders’ Summit, which will feature joint meetings on Tuesday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Authorities in Mexico City cordoned off the city’s central square in front of the National Palace, which is the Mexican version of the White House, and dozens of riot police amassed nearby.
The Post observed virtually no protest activity Monday afternoon immediately ahead of the meeting — aside from a roughly dozen-person demonstration denouncing US attempts to extradite WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange from the UK for prosecution.
Biden presided over nearly 2.4 million illegal border-crossing arrests in fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30, up from 1.7 million in fiscal 2021, fewer than 500,000 in 2020 and nearly 1 million in 2019.
In the first two months of fiscal 2023, border arrests remained at all-time highs.
In October, there were more than 231,000 border-crossing arrests — up about 40% from more than 164,000 in October 2021, which itself was more than double the preceding year’s monthly total.
In November, the most recent month for which US Customs and Border Enforcement data is available, there were nearly 234,000 border apprehensions, a 34% jump from the prior year’s already-elevated number.
AMLO said in March 2021 that Biden inspired the border rush.
“Expectations were created that with the government of President Biden there would be a better treatment of migrants. And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so,” he said.
The Mexican leader also said “they 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.”