Mexico is reportedly concerned that President Joe Biden’s border policies are leading to a massive surge in illegal immigration and allowing the country’s most dangerous drug cartels to grow.
Reuters reported Wednesday that Mexican officials are “worried the new U.S. administration’s asylum policies are stoking illegal immigration and creating business for organized crime.” Customs and Border Protection’s new data released Wednesday showed that over 100,000 migrants were apprehended in February, almost triple the apprehensions in February 2020.
“They see him as the migrant president, and so many feel they’re going to reach the United States,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said referring to Biden the morning after a meeting with the president. “We need to work together to regulate the flow, because this business can’t be tackled from one day to the next.”
According to the report, Mexican intelligence believes the cartels are expanding their smuggling methods as the U.S. implements policies that “incentivize migration.”
One Mexican official familiar with the situation said the cartels started improving their methods “from the day Biden took office” and are now showing “unprecedented” refinement in their techniques.
“Migrants have become a commodity,” the official said, adding that people have become as valuable as drugs for the gangs. “But if a packet of drugs is lost in the sea, it’s gone. If migrants are lost, it’s human beings we’re talking about.”
Among the cartels’ changes is their tendency to travel in small groups instead of large caravans, allowing them to take more dangerous, less-traveled routes, the Mexican official said.
The gangs are using social media – including Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and YouTube – to communicate with migrants, updating them on checkpoints, freight trains, locations to stay at, and navigating immigration laws.
Smugglers are also training migrants to register complaints with authorities claiming they are being targeted by street gangs, and advising they use children to make asylum approval more likely.
Officials within the Mexican government are reportedly turning to improving infrastructure on its own southern border with Guatemala, standing in stark contrast to Biden’s decision to halt construction of former President Donald Trump’s border wall.
“Mexico spend more on every new wave of migrants than that would cost,” said a separate Mexican official. “We have to do it.”
When asked about the Mexican president’s comments and whether the administration takes Biden’s nickname “the migrant president” as a compliment, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the majority of migrants who arrive at the border are turned away.