U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other senior officials will travel to Mexico in an effort to curb illegal immigration.
The announcement follows a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Mexican counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who agreed that “additional enforcement actions are urgently needed so that key ports of entry can be reopened across our shared border.”
Illegal immigration and cross-border flows of fentanyl have become an increasingly critical voting issue as overdose deaths and migrants strain resources in major U.S. cities.
Mass mobilization across the border isn’t helping
“Securitization, threat, and control have done nothing” to combat the migrant crisis and have instead fueled profits made through drug and human trafficking, argued columnist Eunice Rendon for Mexico’s El Universal. Experts quoted by USA Today in 2018 meanwhile likened drug trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border to a balloon: “If you squeeze one part, the air simply shifts to another.” Rather than fund expensive and inefficient projects like a longer border wall and more border agents, security experts said officials should rely more on paid informants and wiretapping programs to target specific smuggling operations.
China vows to crackdown on fentanyl, but will it commit?
China will help stop the flow of fentanyl production products to Mexico on the basis of “mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,” a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said Friday, as part of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s promise to Biden at an Asia-Pacific leaders’ summit last month. But one former U.S. trade official told the BBC that Chinese provinces are ultimately responsible for enforcement, and many lack the necessary resources — or are too corrupt — to stop the flow. Beijing is “capable” of expanding its crackdown, the official said, but the question is whether “it’s a sufficient priority,” with Xi only willing to commit depending on “broader geopolitical dynamics.”
Trump is capitalizing with anti-immigration rhetoric
With record-high border crossings, immigration has become a top concern for U.S. voters: 44% called the issue “extremely important” in a recent CNN poll. Former President Donald Trump — the frontrunner for the Republican primary — has seized the opportunity to amplify his hardline anti-immigration rhetoric, telling supporters at recent campaign events that undocumented immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of the country, prompting both Republicans and Democrats to denounce his comments as offensive and racist. Iowa voters interviewed by CBS said they “don’t speak” for Trump, but echoed his concerns about immigration. “We don’t know who these people are,” one said. “If we have terrorists or drug cartels coming in, that’s just going to corrupt America.”