By Veronica Martinez and Rocio Gallegos / La Verdad
CIUDAD JUÁREZ – In another attempt to curb migration into the country, the United States will supply training tools and equipment to Mexico, officials from both countries announced during a press conference in Juárez.
“We have come together collectively. The United States cannot do this alone; Mexico cannot do this alone. We have to do it with a regional focus,” Chihuahua Gov. María Eugenia Campos Galván said at the Wednesday news conference.
She was joined by U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar and Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Richard Verma, among others. The visit came a day after a U.S. federal judge blocked an immigration rule set by the Biden administration in May that largely limits access to asylum, creating concerns of another influx of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border if the judge’s ruling is upheld.
Hours before the visit, the Mexican National Guard fired toward a group of migrants sleeping in a makeshift camp that troops were trying to disperse ahead of the scheduled press conference.
Before the press conference, U.S. officials met with Mexican authorities from federal, state and city government, as well as with leaders from El Paso – including Mayor Oscar Leeser and County Judge Ricardo Samaniego – in what they called a “binational dialogue on border priorities and investments” related to migrants and migration.
U.S. officials said that to stop the flow of migrants, there needs to be continued investment strategies in Central America where economic challenges, violence and climate change have forced the displacement of thousands of people. They also said there needed to be continued investments in border communities impacted by the influx of migrants.
“From the perspective of the State Department, I can say that we have to do everything on our part to use our diplomatic, economic and security tools in the region,” Verma said. “We must provide the training and operational tools to prevent people from moving between the different border facilities in the region.”
The closed-door meeting between the authorities of both countries was held at the facilities of the State Population Council, where binational cooperation between Mexico and the United States was reaffirmed.
Verma said that current migration is a global challenge that impacts migrants’ home communities, those they travel through and those where they end up. He said it is necessary to find humane, effective and legal solutions that address the causes of displacement.
He said that investment in border communities between the United States and Mexico is of the utmost importance, but it is necessary to reduce the numbers of migrant encounters on the border.
“All I can say is that (investment) is a high priority and we know how much assistance is flowing in and I’m sure there is an opportunity to receive more and have more flexibility,” he said. “But one thing we have to do is reduce the numbers (of border encounters). We are currently down 50% in encounters at this border compared to where we were a few months ago.”
Hours after the binational meeting, Mexico’s National Institute of Migration announced that it received a donation from the United States government of 10 special vehicles “for the rescue of the migrant population that transits through desert areas and challenging terrains to the north of the country.”
The institute’s commissioner, Francisco Garduño Yáñez, announced the start of the operation using the donated ATV-style vehicles, which will be deployed to areas such as Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Tamaulipas.
The governor of Chihuahua said that the relationship with the federal government of the United States has been very good in terms of managing resources to deal with the issue of migratory flows.
“We are in the process of managing various in-kind grants from the State Department,” Campos said, without providing details.
The governor explained that while “very specific measures to treat migrants” have been discussed, a priority of the state government is to take care of the people of Juárez.
On the other side of the border, the city and county governments of El Paso have received support through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, officials said.
“Now we are going to see part of the investments that have been made here in Juárez in the bridges and in the ports. We have plans to create a border between the United States and Mexico that is a modern, secure border and that will work on security,” Salazar said.
El Paso Matters assistant editor Cindy Ramirez contributed to this report.