Mexico’s President Calls for More U.S. Support Ahead of Meeting With Blinken

Mexico’s president said on Wednesday that the U.S. Congress should offer more support to Latin America instead of putting up barriers and “building walls,” shortly before he was scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken about a surge in migration.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico also said that next year’s presidential election in the United States would bring migration to the top of the agenda.

“The migration issue is going to intensify,” he said.

Mr. Blinken was in Mexico City on Wednesday at a time when border crossings have hit record numbers. There have been days this month when the U.S. Border Patrol encountered more than 10,000 people at the southern border.

A caravan that began its journey north on Sunday reflects the enormous challenges in stemming the tide of migration.

The U.S. government has sought help from its neighbors in border restriction efforts, especially in recent years as migrants from across the globe have passed through the southern border in skyrocketing numbers.

Mexico’s role in that effort has taken on greater importance. During the Trump administration, the country agreed to take migrants under the former president’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

The migrants waited in border towns for months as they awaited court hearings in the United States, a key pillar to Trump’s crackdown on asylum seekers.

Later, during the institution of Title 42, a measure that allowed border agents to quickly expel asylum seekers, Mexico agreed to take in migrants from other countries.

The southern border has been a consistent political vulnerability for President Biden, who has struggled to keep the numbers down despite trying to institute limits on asylum access at the border and deporting migrants to Venezuela and Cuba.

Immigration has also become central in discussions in Congress over aid to Ukraine and Israel, because Republicans have refused to approve the money without a new crackdown at the border.

Mr. López Obrador said that Congress should be looking into “how to authorize resources for cooperation and support for the poor peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean instead of putting up barriers, barbed wire fences on the river or thinking about building walls.”

“It is more efficient and more humane to invest in the development of the people,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting will also include Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, and Liz Sherwood-Randall, the White House homeland security adviser.

The migrant caravan has seized headlines in part because of its timing, just ahead of Mr. Blinken’s visit. Migrant caravans have become a common phenomenon and are usually broken up by the authorities well before they reach the U.S. border.

The caravan, roughly 1,000 miles south of the U.S. border in the state of Chiapas, includes migrants from Honduras, Haiti and Cuba, among other countries. The Mexico office of the U.N. refugee agency said in a statement that the procession was starting to disperse and consisted of “no more than 3,000 people.”

It initially included approximately 5,000 people, the agency said.

Republicans have stepped up their attacks on Mr. Biden over the border numbers, a continuing issue for the president as he seeks re-election next year. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that authorizes law enforcement officials in his state to arrest migrants who cross without authorization. (El Paso County challenged the measure in federal court last week.) The president has also faced pressure from mayors in Democratic cities over the increase in migrants arriving in their cities.

The increase in border crossings in recent weeks has forced border officials to shut down railway crossings temporarily in El Paso and Eagle Pass, Texas, and to close the port of entry in Lukeville, Ariz. While the railway crossings are reopened, Biden administration officials plan to speak to Mexican officials about the port of entry closures, officials said in a statement.

Last week, Mr. López Obrador briefed reporters about a call with Mr. Biden in which they agreed that more enforcement at the border was needed.

“Now we have an extraordinary situation because the number of migrants passing through our country with the purpose of reaching the United States has increased,” he said, adding that Mexico was “going to help, as we always do.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced on Friday that there were more than 190,000 apprehensions between ports of entry in November. U.S. officials said they “removed or returned” more than 400,000 people between May and the end of November.

“We are facing a serious challenge along the southwest border, and C.B.P. and our federal partners need more resources from Congress — as outlined in the supplemental budget request — to enhance border security and America’s national security,” Troy Miller, the acting leader of the border agency, said in a statement on Friday.