Top officials from the Biden administration and the Mexican government met Thursday to discuss their work on border security, as illegal border crossings and cross-border drug trafficking remain at historically high levels.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and Mexican Security Secretary Rosa Rodriguez held a press conference after meeting in Washington on Thursday to tout their progress on reining in drug trafficking, human smuggling and illegal arms sales across the southern border.
The Biden administration has continued to stress that it is focused on addressing the “root causes” of the border crisis, but the fruit of that labor isn’t evident to Americans yet.
There is no prosperity without security. The U.S.-Mexico High-Level Security Dialogue advances our cooperation to protect the health and safety of our citizens, prevent criminal organizations from harming our countries, and uphold human rights while bringing criminals to justice. pic.twitter.com/WrU9qoCwWC
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) October 13, 2022
Nearly two years into the Biden administration, illegal border crossings are still shattering records. Nearly two million migrants were encountered by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents in the first 10 months of fiscal year 2022. Overdose deaths are at an all-time high, a due largely to synthetic opioids like fentanyl that enter the U.S. from Mexico. The opioid crisis cost the U.S. roughly $1.5 trillion during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Still, the Biden administration stresses that it’s working on “root causes.” Vice President Kamala Harris was once tasked with addressing those causes, but she’s been largely silent about the border in recent months.
The trio of secretaries welcomed their Mexican partners to the State Department on Thursday and listed the numerous initiatives they’re working on together, pointing increased fentanyl seizures by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents and to the roughly 400 firearms law enforcement seized at the border in the past year.
Americans aren’t seeing the effects of that long-term vision yet, though. Not only do border crossings and overdose deaths remain at record highs, but there’s little sign those figures will slow down soon. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials are preparing for a flood of Venezuelan migrants to hit the border, and Haiti, a country that recently saw thousands of its citizens flee to the U.S., is close to total collapse.
The number of illegal immigrants the Biden administration has deported since taking power is nearly seven times lower than the number deported by the Obama administration during the same time period, suggesting that Biden is also failing to address the issue of illegals remaining in the U.S. after they’ve crossed the border. (RELATED: Illegal Immigration Under Biden Admin Costs Taxpayers More Than Trump’s Border Wall: Report)
Further complicating matters, the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico isn’t entirely copasetic. One journalist asked Blinken and Ebrard about recent comments from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador blaming President Joe Biden for a “lack of control” at the southern border and criticizing the West for shipping arms to Ukraine.
Mexico has also blamed the U.S. for cartel gun smuggling. Blinken said the comments and actions gave him no doubts about the strength of the U.S. relationship with Mexico and the two countries’ ability to continue working together. But as the administration continues to stress the long game, polls show that Americans’ immigration concerns aren’t fading.