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Joe Biden travels to Mexico to contain the migrant and fentanyl crises

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador with his American colleague Joe Biden during their first meeting at the White House in July.  Now, they meet again in Mexico City (Jesús Olearte/AFP)
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador with his American colleague Joe Biden during their first meeting at the White House in July. Now, they meet again in Mexico City (Jesús Olearte/AFP)

from the neighborhood of Anapra, in Ciudad Juarezyou can clearly see the made-up gardens of the houses of Step and in the afternoons the yellow buses that are leaving the boys who return from school. The contrast is so great that some take it for a tourist attraction and hang from the wire fences and watch the scene beyond the Bravo River, which in this area is barely a stream of water. If you climb the hills that surround this Mexican city, you can see a conglomerate of almost three million people together with those who live on the US side. It is an extraordinary commercial and social center, with an exultant life, where customs are just an accident of legality. Epicenter of the great humanitarian tragedy of the late last century and the first two decades of this XXI: migration, the displacement of the poorest, the most needy.

In Juárez/El Paso there were hundreds of immigration crises with thousands of people trying to reach the United States. But in recent months, everything has worsened. The restrictions of the was trumpthe Covidthe political persecutions in Central Americathe permanent Venezuelan crisis and two years of useless fights between democrats and republicans in Washington they left tens of thousands of people stranded in the streets hungry and cold. For two years, President Biden turned a deaf ear to what was happening there as his rivals set one political trap after another. At the end of the year, the humanitarian crisis broke out again with thousands arriving at the border waiting for the US courts to lift the restrictions imposed under the excuse of the pandemic. The Supreme Court which, for now, stopped everything and left people in a dangerous limbo. Finally, Biden is going to face the rampaging bull with a trip to the border this weekend and another to Mexico City to discuss this issue and the other great crisis, that of fentanyl that is killing Americans like flies, with the Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the Canadian premier Justin Trudeau.

As an offering to Washington, the Mexican government once again resorted to opportunistic diplomacy to catch a known drug trafficker coinciding with the visit of the current US president. The ex-president vincent fox Y Jalisco Governor David Alfaronspoke on social media directly about “a welcome gift for Biden.” López Obrador had already resorted to the same strategy when he visited Biden in Washington last July. Two days later, the veteran drug trafficker was found captured. Rafael Caro Quinteroresponsible for the murder of the DEA agent in 1985, Kiki Camarenawhich had been the sharpest thorn in the US-Mexican relationship ever since.

The queue of immigrants waiting to receive refugee status at the border between the Mexican city of Juárez and the US city of El Paso.  REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
The queue of immigrants waiting to receive refugee status at the border between the Mexican city of Juárez and the US city of El Paso. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

In the fiscal year that ended in September 2022, an absolute record was registered with 2,150,000 detained at the border who were trying to cross illegally. A 24% increase compared to the previous year and it is expected that when this year’s figures arrive they will be exorbitant. This data marks barely 10% of those who enter the United States through the Mexican border. The rest is not detected. The roots of the increase can be found in environmental disasters and economic problems in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. And the economic problems aggravated by political repression in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. To this must be added the call Title 42, a law by Donald Trump that was originally intended to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in immigration detention facilities and was later maintained to prevent further transfers. It allows refugees to reach border customs, request asylum and wait for the decision of the authorities. Most are rejected and try again several times. The Republican governors of Texas, Florida, and Arizona they did the rest when they loaded hundreds of immigrants onto buses and planes and sent them illegally to Northeastern Democratic states.

Title 42 was supposed to expire on December 21, but the Supreme Court put it on hold. Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked its end pending a ruling on an emergency appeal filed by Republican-ruled states asking for the policy to remain in effect. Democrats don’t know how to fix this “broken” system. The mayor of El Paso, oscar leeserdeclared a state of emergency after all the reception centers in his city collapsed.

The law is ambiguous and confuses immigrants who move because of rumors that they are going to open or close the borders and increase or decrease expulsions. Last month, 29% of all people who crossed the border were removed under Title 42, with the vast majority coming from a long list of countries – such as Colombia, Cuba, India, Nicaragua and Russia – to which this law does not apply. In thousands of other cases, migrants were allowed to enter the United States because they were traveling with children or were eligible for some other form of protection.

A group of Venezuelan migrants asking to enter the United States in front of the Sacred Heart Church in El Paso, Texas.  REUTERS/Paul Ratje
A group of Venezuelan migrants asking to enter the United States in front of the Sacred Heart Church in El Paso, Texas. REUTERS/Paul Ratje

None of this, of course, stops those seeking a better life for themselves and their families. In mid-December, the border patrol processed the entry of almost 3,000 people per day on the Paso del Norte international bridge. Along Calle Cobre, on the Mexican side, there is a line of people freezing to death for blocks and blocks (Central Americans not used to these low temperatures) that does not stop growing. There are more than 20,000 people waiting the change in immigration policy from Washington. When hunger strikes, they’re going to cross anyway.

The other big topic on Biden’s agenda on his trip to the border and the Mexican capital is that of Fentanyl, the fashionable drug that comes from Mexico and is wreaking havoc in your country. In recent months, the DEA, the US drug enforcement agency, has seized more than 10 million pills. In October, a single seizure at the Los Angeles airport uncovered some 12,000 pills packed in popular candy boxes. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin, and up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Just two milligrams of fentanyl, roughly the size of salt on a salad, is considered a lethal dose. In 2021, there were 107,622 deaths from overdose in the United States, 66% from fentanyl. And that figure rises to almost 80% in the case of adolescents. A variety of brightly colored pills of the drug called “rainbows,” according to a New York Times investigation, is wreaking havoc among 13- to 15-year-olds. The situation is so dire that the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that it was equipping its school health rooms with naloxone dosea drug used to temporarily reverse the effects of overdoses of opioid drugs, including those of fentanyl.

Jenn Bennett, who is high on fentanyl, sits on her skateboard with a black eye as her friend, Jesse Williams, smokes the drug on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jenn Bennett, who is high on fentanyl, sits on her skateboard with a black eye as her friend, Jesse Williams, smokes the drug on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The two issues will be on the table when López Obrador receives his neighbors to the north. Biden will arrive with his new proposal to receive some 30,000 immigrants per month from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua to ease the situation a bit. But there will be no further concessions on the border for the rest and the Mexicans will have to deal with the wave of refugees crossing the country to reach the United States. The fentanyl thing has even deeper roots in the Mexican cartels that found greater profits in this synthetic drug than the always lucrative cocaine. Ovidio “the mouse” Guzmán was the king of fentanyl. It is likely that during Biden’s stay in Mexico City the extradition of El Chapo’s son will be announced. Another drug lord for an American prison but that doesn’t solve much. His brothers will continue to send the poison not caring much that there is a border in between.

Keep reading:

Who is Ovidio Guzmán “El Ratón”, the son of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán arrested this Thursday in Culiacán

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