Mexico’s president vows to help beleaguered border city address migrant influx, vaccine shortage

Border Report Tour

Migrant crisis hits Juarez at both ends, with hundreds being expelled from El Paso on a daily basis and other arriving from southern Mexico and Central America on a northbound journey

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Two old rivals on Friday put their differences aside to address several pressing issues afflicting North-Central Mexico.

Both President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral pledged to do their part to address the ongoing migrant humanitarian crisis and make sure all border health workers get a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of April.

“More migrants are arriving at our border. We are getting about 100 people per day and most are family units,” Corral said Friday during an open meeting with Lopez Obrador at a Juarez Technological Institute. “These are people that have crossed the border at Tamaulipas but are being returned to Mexico” through Juarez.

Juarez is facing a two-way migrant challenge because not only is it receiving hundreds of migrants expelled from the United States under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 order, but also fielding new arrivals daily from the interior of Mexico and Central America looking to cross into the United States. Juarez, for instance, is currently caring for more than 90 unaccompanied minors, Corral said.

The governor said with Juarez being short the infrastructure to deal with new arrivals makes it a must for local and federal officials to work together to address the challenge. He also urged Lopez Obrador to raise the concerns of Mexican border cities with U.S. authorities.

Lopez Obrador said his administration is working with Joe Biden to address the migrant issue, including looking for a long-term solution to migrants coming to the border from Central America. He said a first step would be for Biden to expedite the $4 billion in aid he promised to Northern Triangle countries.

“We are looking at this issue. […] We have to look for a solution. We have proposed to the U.S. government addressing the causes, supporting Central America and the south and southeast of our country,” Lopez Obrador said. “People don’t leave their communities, their families because they want to. They do it out of need.”

He also talked about a common enemy of Mexico and the U.S. on the migrant front.

Human smugglers are taking advantage of the expectation created by the election of Biden that the U.S. border would be open to migration. “We have to inform […] we have to protect human rights and one way to do that is to have an orderly migration flow, not open the southern border of our country without taking into account that migrants are at risk during the trek,” Lopez Obrador said.

He suggested that the United States issue more work visas to Central American countries and to Mexico.

As far as Juarez, Lopez Obrador echoed Corral’s pledge of mutual cooperation and joked that “democracy without disagreements would be boring.”

The president pledged to send vaccines for all frontline healthcare workers in Juarez and start vaccinating seniors by the end of April.

Nurses and other hospital employees hold a large banner outside Juarez Tech demanding vaccinations for all medical personnel in Juarez. The protest took place as Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador spoke inside the facility. (photo by Julian Resendiz/Border Report)

He also thanked Mexican migrants living in the United States for sending billions of dollars in remittances despite the pandemic, something that helped Mexico weather a recession.

Lopez Obrador also promised to have his representative return to a joint public safety commission to address the threat of organized crime, which has resulted in thousands of murders in Juarez in the past three years.

Protests and supporters greeted the president of Mexico during his trip. Nurses held a large red banner saying “Health workers demand COVID vaccines” outside Juarez Tech.

“If he’s not going to give us vaccines, open up the bridges, let us go get vaccinated in El Paso,” said Margarita Vina, a senior citizen who lives in Juarez.

She was referring to the non-essential travel restrictions in force for a year which prevent Mexicans from crossing into the U.S. for shopping and for getting services available in their own country.

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