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Biden Sends Top Officials To Mexico As Border Surge Continues

Ambassador Roberta Jacobson addresses migration issues during the daily press briefing at the White House on March 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Ambassador Roberta Jacobson addresses migration issues during the daily press briefing at the White House on March 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.

President Biden is sending some of his top officials to Mexico and Guatemala this week to discuss the growing numbers of U.S.-bound migrants from Central America, one of the biggest challenges facing the new administration.

Roberta Jacobson, a former ambassador to Mexico during the Obama administration who now serves on Biden's National Security Council, and Juan Gonzalez, the NSC's senior director for the region, will travel to Mexico, a senior administration official told reporters.

"President Biden made clear from Day 1 that he wants to change our immigration system," a senior administration official said. "The previous four years didn't just neglect the immigration system. The previous administration intentionally ... weakened the system into something that was unrecognizable."

The Biden administration is under growing pressure to address the increasing number of migrants arriving at the border, including thousands of children who have been stopped and are being held in detention facilities.

Officials said Jacobson and Gonzalez will meet with Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and other officials from Mexico's Foreign Ministry and the National Institute of Migration, which oversees migration within the country.

They will discuss the current migration issue and "a joint development strategy along southern Mexico and in the Northern Triangle" to "explore areas where the United States and Mexico can work together to address the root causes of migration," one of the officials said.

Gonzalez will then be joined by Ricardo Zuniga of the State Department on a trip to Guatemala to meet with President Alejandro Eduardo Giammattei and Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo in addition to other economic and security officials. They will also meet with representatives from the private sector and civil society, the officials told reporters.

NSC Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Juan Gonzalez (R) joins Secretary of State Tony Blinken (L) in a virtual meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on February 23, 2021.
/ Pool/Getty Images
Juan Gonzalez (right), the National Security Council's senior director for the Western Hemisphere, joins Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a virtual meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in February.

"The only way to sustainably address the root causes of migration is to make sure that you're promoting job creation in places like Guatemala, but also making sure that economic opportunity is something that is widespread, that tackling corruption is central to the economic agenda," another official told reporters.

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