US to Send Millions of Covid-19 Vaccine Doses to Mexico and Canada

The United States plans to send millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada, the White House said Thursday, a notable step into vaccine diplomacy just as the Biden administration is quietly pressing Mexico to curb the stream of migrants coming to the border.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the United States was planning to share 2.5 million doses of the vaccine with Mexico and 1.5 million with Canada, adding that it was “not finalized yet, but that is our aim.”

Tens of millions of doses of the vaccine have been sitting in American manufacturing sites. But while their use has already been authorized in dozens of countries, the vaccine has not yet been approved by American regulators.

Several European countries suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, a precaution because some people who had received the shot later developed blood clots and severe bleeding. But on Thursday, Europe’s drug regulator declared the vaccine safe. AstraZeneca has also said that a review of 17 million people who received the vaccine found they were less likely than others to develop dangerous clots.

halting construction of a border wall, stopping the swift expulsion of children at the border and proposing a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the United States.

But he is clinging to a central element of Mr. Trump’s agenda: relying on Mexico to restrain a wave of people making their way to the United States.

Anticipating a surge of migrants and the most apprehensions by American agents at the border in two decades, Mr. Biden asked President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico in a video call this month whether more could be done to help solve the problem, according to Mexican officials and another person briefed on the conversation.

The two presidents also discussed the possibility of the United States sending Mexico some of its surplus vaccine supply, a senior Mexican official said. Mexico has publicly asked the Biden administration to send it doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

At a news briefing on Thursday, Ms. Psaki said that the discussions over vaccines and border security between the United States and Mexico were “unrelated” but also “overlapping.”

one of the world’s deadliest coronavirus epidemics, would be buoyed by a shipment of doses south.

“Both governments cooperate on the basis of an orderly, safe and regular migration system,” Roberto Velasco, director general for the North America region at Mexico’s foreign ministry, said in a statement, referring to the engagement between the two countries on migration and vaccines.

But he said there was no quid pro quo for vaccines: “These are two separate issues, as we look for a more humane migratory system and enhanced cooperation against COVID-19, for the benefit of our two countries and the region.”

wielded the threat of tariffs against all Mexican goods unless migration was curbed — may have flagged in the waning months of the Trump administration.

From October through December of last year, the number of Central Americans apprehended by Mexico declined, while detentions by American agents increased, according to Mexican government numbers and data compiled by The Washington Office on Latin America, a research organization that advocates for human rights.

“The likelihood of the outgoing Trump administration threatening tariffs again was low, so there was an incentive for Mexico to go back to its default state of low apprehensions,” said Adam Isacson, an expert on border security at The Washington Office on Latin America.

The Biden administration’s appeal to do more against migration has put Mexico in a difficult position. While Mr. Trump strong-armed Mexico into militarizing the border, some Mexican officials argue that his harsh policies may have at times helped lessen their load by deterring migrants from attempting to make the journey north.

signaling that the United States is more welcoming to migrants.

Tuesday statement, the secretary for homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, said he was “working with Mexico to increase its capacity to receive expelled families.”

A Mexican law that went into effect in January prohibits the authorities from holding migrant families and children in detention centers, and the lack of space in shelters has become a major problem.

“Shelters are at a near collapse,” said Enrique Valenzuela, a lead coordinator for the government of Chihuahua state’s migration efforts.

Local officials in Chihuahua and shelter operators say that coordination has broken down between Mexican and American authorities. During the last years of the Trump administration, American officials would notify their Mexican counterparts before expelling migrants across the border and would orchestrate the crossings at a handful of well-staffed border checkpoints, they say.

Under the Biden administration, they say, Customs and Border Protection agents now deposit migrants at some of the most obscure, understaffed checkpoints, leaving their Mexican counterparts scrambling when they discover dozens of migrants walking in from the United States.

Local government officials in Ciudad Juárez and shelter operators say Mexico is dialing up operations to capture and deport migrants along the northern border. On a near daily basis, two of them said, Mexican authorities are stopping vans stuffed with families and pickup trucks carrying livestock — along with migrants crouching on the floor to avoid detection.

Part of the reason Mexico is willing to continue cracking down is that, despite being a country that has long sent people north, there is a lot of resentment toward Central American migrants.

“The level of negative attitudes that we have toward migrant flows has gone up, so there won’t be a political cost” for Mr. López Obrador, said Tonatiuh Guillén, who ran Mexico’s National Migration Institute in the first half of 2019. “But with Trump, we negotiated nothing — we gave them a lot and they didn’t give us anything back,” he added, arguing that the strategy should be different with Mr. Biden.

Despite the very public tensions with Mexico under Mr. Trump, Mr. López Obrador has been wary of the Biden administration, concerned that it might be more willing to interfere on domestic issues like labor rights or the environment.

Instead, several Mexican officials say, his government has pushed the United States to deter Central Americans from migrating by sending humanitarian aid to Honduras and Guatemala in the wake of two hurricanes that devastated those countries and, many experts believe, pushed even more people to migrate.

Mexican officials have also asked the United States to send more Hondurans and Guatemalans apprehended in the United States directly to their home countries, rather than releasing them to Mexico, making it even harder for them to try to cross the border again.

While the negotiations over migration may be on a separate track from Mexico’s request for surplus vaccines from the United States, the need for them in Mexico is clear.

About 200,000 people have died in Mexico from the virus — the third highest death toll in the world — and the country has been relatively slow to vaccinate its population. That poses a potential political risk for Mr. López Obrador, whose party is heading into crucial elections in June that will determine whether the president hangs onto control of the legislature.

“Mexico needs cooperation from the U.S. in getting its economy jump-started and getting vaccines to get out of the health crisis,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington. “So there’s room for the two countries to reach agreements based on aligned interests rather than overt threats.”

Michael D. Shear, Jim Tankersley and Ian Austen contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.

View Source

Biden Urges Mexico to Do More to Stop Migration

MEXICO CITY — The Biden administration has been quietly pressing Mexico to curb the stream of migrants coming to the United States, urging it to take in more families being expelled by American authorities and to step up enforcement at its southern border with Guatemala, according to Mexican officials and others briefed on the discussions.

President Biden has moved quickly to dismantle some of former President Trump’s signature immigration policies, halting construction of a border wall, stopping the swift expulsion of children at the border and proposing a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the United States.

But he is clinging to a central element of Mr. Trump’s agenda: relying on Mexico to restrain a wave of people making their way to the United States.

Anticipating a surge of migrants and the most apprehensions by American agents at the border in two decades, Mr. Biden asked President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico in a video call this month whether more could be done to help solve the problem, according to Mexican officials and another person briefed on the conversation.

one of the world’s deadliest coronavirus epidemics, would be buoyed by a shipment of doses south.

“Both governments cooperate on the basis of an orderly, safe and regular migration system,” Roberto Velasco, director general for the North America region at Mexico’s foreign ministry, said in a statement, referring to the engagement between the two countries on migration and vaccines.

But he said there was no quid pro quo for vaccines: “These are two separate issues, as we look for a more humane migratory system and enhanced cooperation against COVID-19, for the benefit of our two countries and the region.”

wielded the threat of tariffs against all Mexican goods unless migration was curbed — may have flagged in the waning months of the Trump administration.

From October through December of last year, the number of Central Americans apprehended by Mexico declined, while detentions by American agents increased, according to Mexican government numbers and data compiled by The Washington Office on Latin America, a research organization that advocates for human rights.

“The likelihood of the outgoing Trump administration threatening tariffs again was low, so there was an incentive for Mexico to go back to its default state of low apprehensions,” said Adam Isacson, an expert on border security at The Washington Office on Latin America.

The Biden administration’s appeal to do more against migration has put Mexico in a difficult position. While Mr. Trump strong-armed Mexico into militarizing the border, some Mexican officials argue that his harsh policies may have at times helped lessen their load by deterring migrants from attempting to make the journey north.

signaling that the United States is more welcoming to migrants.

“They get to look like the good guys and the Mexicans look like the bad guys,” said Cris Ramón, an immigration consultant based in Washington, D.C.

“All the positive humanitarian policies are being done by the Biden administration. ” Mr. Ramón added, “and then the Mexicans are left with the dirty work.”

Mr. López Obrador is also trying to find a way of increasing capacity to house migrants in shelters, which are bursting at the seams. In a Tuesday statement, the secretary for homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, said he was “working with Mexico to increase its capacity to receive expelled families.”

A Mexican law that went into effect in January prohibits the authorities from holding migrant families and children in detention centers, and the lack of space in shelters has become a major problem.

“Shelters are at a near collapse,” said Enrique Valenzuela, a lead coordinator for the government of Chihuahua state’s migration efforts.

Local officials in Chihuahua and shelter operators say that coordination has broken down between Mexican and American authorities. During the last years of the Trump administration, American officials would notify their Mexican counterparts before expelling migrants across the border and would orchestrate the crossings at a handful of well-staffed border checkpoints, they say.

Under the Biden administration, they say, Customs and Border Patrol agents now deposit migrants at some of the most obscure, understaffed checkpoints, leaving their Mexican counterparts scrambling when they discover dozens of migrants walking in from the United States.

Local government officials in Ciudad Juárez and shelter operators say Mexico is dialing up operations to capture and deport migrants along the northern border. On a near daily basis, two of them said, Mexican authorities are stopping vans stuffed with families and pickup trucks carrying livestock — along with migrants crouching on the floor to avoid detection.

Part of the reason Mexico is willing to continue cracking down is that, despite being a country that has long sent people north, there is a lot of resentment toward Central American migrants.

“The level of negative attitudes that we have toward migrant flows has gone up, so there won’t be a political cost” for Mr. López Obrador, said Tonatiuh Guillén, who ran Mexico’s National Migration Institute in the first half of 2019. “But with Trump, we negotiated nothing — we gave them a lot and they didn’t give us anything back,” he added, arguing that the strategy should be different with Mr. Biden.

Despite the very public tensions with Mexico under Mr. Trump, Mr. López Obrador has been wary of the Biden administration, concerned that it might be more willing to interfere on domestic issues like labor rights or the environment.

Instead, several Mexican officials say, his government has pushed the United States to deter Central Americans from migrating by sending humanitarian aid to Honduras and Guatemala in the wake of two hurricanes that devastated those countries and, many experts believe, pushed even more people to migrate.

Mexican officials have also asked the United States to send more Hondurans and Guatemalans apprehended in the United States directly to their home countries, rather than releasing them to Mexico, making it even harder for them to try to cross the border again.

While the negotiations over migration may be on a separate track from Mexico’s request for surplus vaccines from the United States, the need for them in Mexico is clear.

About 200,000 people have died in Mexico from the virus — the third highest death toll in the world — and the country has been relatively slow to vaccinate its population. That poses a potential political risk for Mr. López Obrador, whose party is heading into crucial elections in June that will determine whether the president hangs onto control of the legislature.

“Mexico needs cooperation from the U.S. in getting its economy jump-started and getting vaccines to get out of the health crisis,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington. “So there’s room for the two countries to reach agreements based on aligned interests rather than overt threats.”

Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Michael D. Shear contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.

View Source

Surge in Migrants Defies Easy or Quick Solutions for Biden

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration warned on Tuesday that the United States expected to make more apprehensions along the southwestern border this year than at any time in the past two decades, underscoring the urgency for the White House to develop solutions for the chronic problems with immigration from Central America.

The grim prediction by Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security, came as President Biden was being assailed for his handling of a surge at the border involving thousands of unaccompanied children and teenagers from the region — with attacks coming from the right for not being tough enough and from the left for not being humane enough.

The president has pleaded for time and patience, blaming his predecessor for dismantling the immigration system in his zeal to keep foreigners out. But even Mr. Biden’s top advisers acknowledge that after unwinding the harsh policies of President Donald J. Trump’s, there is no easy or quick fix for a problem that has been a recurring crisis.

“We have no illusions about how hard it is, and we know it will take time,” Mr. Mayorkas said in a statement on Tuesday as the House prepared to vote this week on several immigration measures and the administration rushed to provide more housing for the young migrants arriving at the border. But, he added, “We will get it done.”

restart the Obama-era Central American Minors program, which was intended to allow some children to apply in their home region for permission to live in the United States with a parent or other relative. When Mr. Trump ended the program, about 3,000 Central American children had been approved for travel to the United States.

It will take time to ramp up the program, which has strict vetting requirements, in order to verify the relationships of the children and their relatives.

Now, the administration is eager to examine even broader efforts to consider asylum applications remotely.

The administration is already testing a system where migrants, who were told by the Trump administration to wait along the border in squalid camps in Mexico, can use an app on their cellphones to apply for asylum and track their cases. That kind of system might be expanded more broadly, officials said.

“This is the road map going forward for a system that is safe, orderly and fair,” Mr. Mayorkas said.

Many of the changes Mr. Biden wants are included in comprehensive immigration legislation he sent to Congress on his first day in office. But that bill is a long way from becoming law, especially with Mr. Trump and other Republicans again using immigration to stoke their partisan base.

Mr. Biden’s most ambitious — and difficult — goal is to use the United States’ wealth and diplomatic power to reshape the region in the hopes of diminishing the root causes of migration from Central America, starting with poverty and violence.

It is an effort that has been tried before, Mr. Obama and members of Congress from both parties agreed to invest several hundred million dollars into Central America with the hope of improving the courts, diminishing the cartels and improving economic conditions.

Mr. Trump cut that spending, arguing that it was a waste of money, before restoring some of it. But Mr. Biden’s team is betting that even more investment will produce results. In Honduras, for example, the country’s coffee production has been hurt by hurricanes and slumping prices for coffee beans, driving many people into poverty.

But helping to reverse those kinds of economic trends could take years.

“When the president talks about ‘root causes,’ some of this is immediate humanitarian aid, but a lot of it is policy and aid together, making sure that you tackle the root causes of migration,” Ms. Jacobson said. “Otherwise, what you see is continued cycles.”

View Source

Biden Administration Directs FEMA to Help Shelter Migrant Children

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in processing an increasing number of children and teenagers who have filled detention facilities at the southwest border, as criticism mounts over the treatment of young migrants.

FEMA, which normally provides financial assistance during natural disasters, will help find shelter space and provide “food, water and basic medical care” to thousands of young migrants, Michael Hart, a spokesman for the agency, said in a statement.

The administration also asked officials in the Homeland Security Department to volunteer “to help care for and assist unaccompanied minors” who have been held in border jails that are managed by Customs and Border Protection.

Previous administrations have also dispatched FEMA to help process migrants during surges in border crossings. However, the Biden administration cannot use disaster aid funding to support the processing of migrants in Texas after they cross the border without the consent of Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican. States must request the funding from the federal government.

9,457 children, including teenagers, were detained at the border without a parent in February, up from more than 5,800 in January.

The Biden administration has so far failed to quickly process the young migrants and transfer them to shelters managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, where they are held until the government matches them with a sponsor. The administration has struggled to expand the capacity of those shelters, where roughly 8,500 migrants were held this week. The Biden administration recently directed the shelters intended to hold the children to return to normal capacity, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

surge of crossings is adding new pressure in a divisive policy fight that the last three administrations have also confronted.

Mr. Biden’s critics have moved quickly in recent days to blame him for the increase of arrivals that they say threatens the country’s safety, economic recovery and health as the coronavirus pandemic continues to claim thousands of lives.

Many of them appear eager to shift attention away from the president’s handling of the pandemic and his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which has been well received by the public, and toward an issue that could unite the Republican Party in opposition to Democrats.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday called the influx of migrants, particularly children, “a humanitarian challenge to all of us.” But she was determined to cast blame on Mr. Trump and his policies, and longstanding unrest in Central America that had driven waves of migrants north.

“What the administration has inherited is a broken system at the border, and they are working to correct that in the children’s interest,” she said on “This Week” on ABC.

Representative Veronica Escobar, Democrat of Texas, who had also pointed to the Trump administration, said she found the situation at a processing facility that she had toured in El Paso on Friday “unacceptable.”

Nicholas Fandos and Chris Cameron contributed reporting.

View Source