Remember when Trump pressured Mexico to pay for "the wall" and eventually succeeded in stemming the tide of migrants crossing Mexico to come to the US? Well, a few years later, with a new US president in the White House, and suddenly the tables have turned.
On Tuesday, Mexico's government urged the United States to commit funds towards the economic development of southern Mexico and Central America in a bid to help contain a sharp increase in illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border this year.
Translation: it's time for Biden to pay up if he doesn't want even more migrants.
Speaking ahead of talks between US and Mexican officials on Thursday that will encompass investment in Central America, Reuters reported that Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said:
"We hope to get a positive response to begin these investments soon."
Picking up the theme after Ebrard, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that his government believed it was time to begin the development of Mexico's poorer south and Central America, areas which send many of the migrants to the US border, and that that the US has a key role in providing the funding.
The topic of record illegal crossings at the southern border has been especially sensitive for the Biden admin which first invited all of central America to come to the US only to have the admin backtrack and order them to stay at home when they did just as they were told originally. A few days ago we showed that apprehensions of undocumented immigrants at the Southern U.S. border in 2021 reached levels last seen in 2001, despite two months still to go in the current fiscal year.
The inflow of undocumented immigrants from Central America drove numbers up significantly, but, as Statista's Katharina Buchholz notes, immigration from Mexico has also increased again for the fourth year in a row - together creating another exceptional year at the Southern border that has already surpassed the records set in 2019. The number of individuals apprehended with their families also rose again in 2021, as Central American migrants tend to leave their countries out of fear of violence, often taking their families with them.
In 2019, Trump era policies of separating migrant children from their parents as well as the practice of keeping those who apply for asylum in tent cities in Mexico caused outrage among some. Both practices had been discontinued under the Biden Administration until the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to block a Texas judge from ruling for the reinstatement of "Remain in Mexico". Both President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris have made it clear that they strongly discourage migrants from making the journey to the United States - backtracking on their earlier campaign vows- but have done little in practice to effectuate this.
Historically, immigrants from Mexico made up the largest share of undocumented arrivals to the United States. The arrivals were mostly classified as work migrants, i.e. men arriving without their families at least initially. In the year 2000, Customs and Border Protection records show that more than 1.6 million Mexicans were arrested at the border. This number reached a low of 128,000 in FY2017, before rising again to 500,000 in 2021.
The number of non-Mexicans apprehended at the border exceeded 774,000 in 2021. Out of these, around 80 percent came from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Immigration from Mexico started to decrease during the Great Recession as work was in short supply. Reasons for this include the economy in Mexico doing better while the country shifts towards an aging population, which causes workers to be more sought after. While this development already flipped again in 2018, the coronavirus pandemic seems to have accelerated the shift as more single adults attempt to leave Mexico for the United States once more.