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U.S. and Mexico will boost deportation flights and enforcement to crack down on illegal migration

By SEUNG MIN KIM, Associated Press
Published: April 30, 2024, 8:18am

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador are moving swiftly on new steps to crack down on illegal migration that include tougher enforcement on railways, buses and in airports as well as increased repatriation flights for migrants from both the U.S. and Mexico.

The two leaders previewed the measures in a joint statement following a call on Sunday, which centered on their joint efforts to “effectively manage” migration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Biden and López Obrador said they are directing their national security aides to “immediately implement concrete measures” to reduce the number of illegal border crossings.

An administration official said the U.S. and Mexico will increase enforcement measures that would prevent major modes of transportation from being used to facilitate illegal migration to the border, as well as the number of repatriation flights that would return migrants to their home countries. The official, granted anonymity to discuss details that had not been made public, also said the U.S. and Mexico would “respond promptly to disrupt surges.”

The fresh steps come as Biden continues to deliberate whether to take executive action that would further crack down on the number of migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border.

Since the collapse of border legislation in Congress earlier this year, the White House has not ruled out Biden issuing an executive order on asylum rules to try and reduce the number of migrants at the border. Any unilateral action would likely lean on a president’s authority under Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which offers broad powers to block entry of certain immigrants if their entry is deemed detrimental to the national interest.

Administration officials have been poring over various options for months, but Biden has made no decision on how to proceed with any executive actions. White House aides have seen little immediate urgency for the president to take any action, considering the number of illegal border crossings have declined since a record high of 250,000 in December as Mexican officials have stepped up their enforcement efforts.

The call occurred on Sunday at Biden’s request, López Obrador said during his daily news conference Monday in Mexico City.

“We talk periodically,” López Obrador said. “I seek him out, he seeks me out, we chat.”

The Mexican leader said the two countries have made progress in controlling unauthorized migration by persuading many migrants not to use illegal methods to move from country to country. López Obrador also applauded a January decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed Border Patrol agents to resume cutting razor wire that the state of Texas had installed along the border to try and deter migration.

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Maria Verza contributed from Mexico City.

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