Senior Biden administration officials are traveling to Mexico on Monday to discuss managing migration with government officials amid a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the US-Mexico border.
Roberta Jacobson, the Biden administration’s coordinator for the southern border, and Juan Gonzalez, the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere, will be making the trip, according to NSC spokeswoman Emily Horne.
The two will be joined by the State Department’s Northern Triangle special envoy Ricardo Zúñiga. Zúñiga is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and his appointment as special envoy was announced Monday by the State Department.
Gonzalez and Zuniga will then travel to Guatemala, where they will meet with President Alejandro Giammattei, foreign minister Pedro Brolo and others, according to senior administration officials.
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“This is an important trip and one that builds on the administration’s focused work on addressing the root causes of irregular migration as a cyclical regional issue that neither starts nor stops at the southern border of the United States,” a senior administration official said.
The officials plan to discuss managing migration in the short term with government officials but also looking at longer-term plans to address the root causes of migration and ways to expand economic opportunity, according to the officials.
The trip comes as the Biden administration races to accommodate a surge in unaccompanied minors arriving at the border, which has overwhelmed and strained government resources. Administration officials said Thursday that the federal government had more than 14,000 migrant children in its custody.
“We are working round the clock 24/7,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Mayorkas declined on Sunday to provide a timeline for when the administration would open new facilities capable of handling the surge, but said it would be “as soon as possible.”
He said the coronavirus pandemic has partly complicated the administration’s efforts, and has also blamed Trump administration policies for dismantling the immigration system.
President Joe Biden on Sunday said he would travel to the border himself “at some point.”
“I know what’s going on in those facilities,” Biden told reporters.
More than 800 unaccompanied migrant children have been in Border Patrol custody for more than 10 days, according to documents reviewed by CNN.
Federal law requires unaccompanied children to be turned over within 72 hours to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees a shelter network designed to house minors, but amid constraints related to the pandemic, children are staying in custody for longer than the 72-hour limit.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez and Nicole Gaouette contributed to this report.