The operation was part of a U.S.-led campaign, undertaken by past American administrations and intensified under former President Donald Trump, to persuade first the Mexican and then the Central American governments to stop migration well short of the U.S. border.
Under the Biden administration, the same general policy is likely to continue, at least for the near term, according to six U.S. and Mexican sources with knowledge of diplomatic discussions.
Biden has been steadily unravelling many immigration policies of the Trump era. However, according to two Mexican officers, the new administration has encouraged Mexico and Guatemala to maintain border enforcement in their countries to stem migration to the north.
Diplomats and immigration think tank experts told Reuters that it would be politically expedient for the Biden administration to keep asylum seekers and other migrants from travelling en masse to the southern border of the country, particularly as the coronavirus pandemic is ravaging Mexico and the United States and seeking to contain its spread.
They also said any rush to the U.S. border could give Biden’s political opponents ammunition to sink the remainder of his immigration agenda, which involves providing immigrants already in the United States with a path to citizenship and reducing backlogs of asylum applications.
The Biden administration has not specifically endorsed militarized action, however, and has vowed to treat migrants with dignity.
A spokesperson for the White House declined to comment, responding to Reuters’ recent public remarks by Roberta Jacobson, a special assistant to the Southwest Border President.
On a recent call, Jacobson told reporters that the administration had not spoken directly with Mexico about how its security forces are deployed on their own soil. However, she added that the diplomats of the two countries, as well as Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, had spoken of the need to work together on migration management. She stressed that addressing its root causes, such as poverty and corruption, is important.