Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a press conference in Mexico City on 11 May 2023. EFE/José Méndez

Mexico pledges support for US in managing end of Title 42

Mexico City, May 11 (EFE).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Thursday that he told Joe Biden his government will do everything it can to help the United States manage the end of Title 42, a measure that has seen US immigration authorities summarily deport 2.8 million asylum-seekers.

Mexico will “cooperate with the government of the United States to prevent chaos and violence on the border,” Lopez Obrador said, recounting his conversation earlier this week with his US counterpart.

The two presidents spoke ahead of the end – set for 11:59 pm Thursday (0300 GMT Friday) – of the application of Title 42, a provision of a 1944 public health law that allows the exclusion of individuals when “there is serious danger of the introduction of (a communicable) disease into the United States.”

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump, a Republican, invoked Title 42 to order the immediate expulsion of foreigners arriving at the border to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

While Democrat Biden sought to end the application of Title 42, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Republican state governments who challenged the policy change.

But with the US pandemic public health emergency set to lapse on at midnight Thursday, Title 42 will no longer be applicable.

Lopez Obrador, commonly known as AMLO, said that he ordered the deployment of additional National Guard units to Mexico’s borders to help immigration authorities cope with an expected surge of third-country migrants trying to reach the US.

While the president professed ignorance about the scale of the special deployment, Mexico’s defense department said last month that more than 25,000 military personnel were assigned to border duties.

AMLO said that the decision to reinforce the borders was not in response to a request from the US, adding that the troops were under orders not to use force.

He justified the military buildup by citing the existence of “opportunistic politicians” in the US “who wish to see conflict on the border,” apparently referring to the Republican lawmakers who have called for using the military against Mexican drug cartels.

“We need to act cautiously, to avert a confrontation because they are betting on that, they want a larger conflict to be generated, so we have to be alert to, above all, avoid violence,” AMLO said.

With the end of the Title 42 policy at the border, US immigration authorities will revert to the normal procedures for handling asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants in general.

In preparation, the Biden administration has taken steps to expedite deportation proceedings and other processes and dispatched troops to the border to assist immigration authorities with administrative and logistical challenges.

Though human rights advocates have criticized the Mexican government for being too willing to help Washington enforce its immigration policy, AMLO offered a spirited defense of the current occupant of the White House.

“President Biden is a well-intentioned person, he’s our friend. He is doing what is appropriate, subjected to strong pressure for the reasons I am mentioning, there is a conservative bloc, many hawks,” the Mexican president said.

EFE ppc/dr