The effort is part of a multilateral approach to halting the flow of migrants to the US-Mexico border after months of growing arrests. In May, border officials met about 180,000 migrants at the southwestern border, according to one official, putting the United States on track to outnumber the 2019 crisis by four months in the financial year.
The expansion to Cancun is part of an existing program to position U.S. customs and border officials with their foreign counterparts in “strategically located locations” where they work with immigration authorities to identify people who are likely to head to the United States to enter. illegally, according to one National Security official.
Cancun has been on the radar for some time, according to a former customs and border guard, as it has one of Mexico̵
7;s major airports with significant international travel. The expansion to Cancun was “a long process” because US authorities identified it as one of the routes used by people illegally crossing the southern US border, a DHS official added.
It highlights the changing migratory landscape and the various methods migrants use to arrive at the southern border of the United States. Vice President Kamala Harris tackled these challenges this week during her first trip abroad, sending a candid message to migrants while in Guatemala: Don’t come.
The trip to Guatemala and Mexico underscores the Biden administration’s focus on Central America and migration from the region, following a record number of unaccompanied minors crossing the United States this spring and congested border facilities.
Harris met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giamatti on Monday and flew to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. On Tuesday, Harris said he firmly believes the United States and Mexico are “entering a new era” and cited long-standing relations between the two countries. This partnership includes cooperation in the field of immigration enforcement.
Asked about border guards based in Cancun, customs and border guards cited the immigration advisory program set up in 2004 to “prevent terrorists, high-risk and ill-documented passengers from boarding commercial aircraft destined for the United States.” builds on this concept and launches a joint security program, working with Mexican law enforcement for a similar mission.
A number of nationalities arrive at the US-Mexico border. While most are from Mexico and the countries of the Northern Triangle, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, nearly 34,000 were listed as “others” in the citizenship groups in April, according to customs and border guards. This category includes, for example, people from Brazil and Venezuela.
It is unclear whether there will be a permanent presence in Cancun, a DHS official said. As part of the program, US officials are working with the host country to identify people who are “at high risk” of illegal migration and to stop them before continuing.
The United States has also doubled human smuggling, launching operations focused on dismantling networks and imposing consequences on traffickers.
While in Guatemala on Monday, Harris announced that the administration would set up a working group on smuggling and human trafficking. This announcement followed in the footsteps of a joint operation launched by the administration, focusing on transnational criminal organizations linked to the smuggling of migrants.
“With the help of our federal and foreign partners, we seek to restrict access to this profit by denying these criminals the opportunity to engage in travel, trade and finance in the United States. We intend to disrupt any aspect of the logistics network that these organizations use for success, “Interior Minister Alejandro Mayorkas said in an April statement.