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The US and Mexico prepare for a migration wave due to inflation

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(Bloomberg) — The U.S. and Mexican governments are bracing for a surge in undocumented immigrants heading to their border in coming months, after faster inflation in key Central American countries worsened economic woes.

Officials from the administrations of Presidents Joe Biden and Andrés Manuel López Obrador discussed in recent days their concern about the impact that rising food and energy prices will have on the region, according to people familiar with the talks who asked not to. they are identified as not being authorized to speak publicly on the subject. Global commodity prices have soared as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, affecting purchasing power and adding economic stress to developing nations.

A White House official agreed that the higher cost of living was discussed during a trip by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to Mexico and Costa Rica this week. The governments considering that it is an additional factor that will stimulate the migration of people already facing persistent violence and misery caused by the covid-19 pandemic, which is now in its third year, the official said.

Recent talks have included the State Department, the National Security Council and Mexico’s foreign ministry, the people said.

The State Department referred questions to the White House, and the Department of Homeland Security press office did not respond to a request for comment. The press office of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations declined to comment.

In February, Honduras and El Salvador registered the fastest increases in consumer prices since 2014 and 2011, respectively. Inflation in Mexico was 7.3% in February, when it peaked in December in November.

food insecurity

Migration generally increases in the Northern Hemisphere spring months, when warmer weather makes travel more feasible than in winter. Although the US is also facing inflation at its highest level in four decades, this is due, in part, to a strong economy and a tight labor market, conditions that have been historical drivers in attracting immigrants.

The so-called Northern Triangle of Central America, which also includes Guatemala, has been responsible for much of the undocumented migration over the past decade. The region has been plagued by food insecurity caused by natural disasters, which have deepened poverty. Now the countries, which are all net fuel importers, are grappling with crude prices that recently rose above $120 a barrel.

Last year, the US added $300 million in aid to the region, including to reduce damage from persistent drought and food shortages, and together with Mexico has focused on ways to boost development.

After a dip at the start of the pandemic in 2020, the number of undocumented immigrants apprehended at the border spiked in July of last year to more than 200,000 people a month for the first time in two decades. It has held at double or triple pre-pandemic levels in recent months.

The Mexican government is also urging the Biden Administration to prepare to send more migrants directly to their home countries rather than south across the Mexican border as a way to deter people from making the journey. people said.

The US used Trump-era political policy in Title 42, aimed at preventing covid-19 propaganda in detention centers, and targeting migrants from Central America across the border into northern Mexico . That depleted the resources of Mexican border cities and led many people to quickly repeat their attempts to enter the US.

The Biden administration is preparing for the end of the policy and is working to get Central American countries to cooperate in receiving migrants returning home, the White House official said.

original note:

US and Mexico Brace for New Migration Wave as Inflation Rises

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