US President Joe Biden has been sharply criticized by Mexican officials for making former president Donald Trump’s immigration policies too loose as they warned that the new president’s policies have empowered human traffickers.
The officials said they were concerned that the "Migrant President" Biden's new immigration policy increased criminal activities by those engaged in trafficking, encouraging illegal immigration.
The Mexican officials said that after Biden took office and ended a series of measures imposed by Trump to clamp down on asylum seekers, people have turned into a "commodity" for human trafficking gangs.
Mexican government sources said after the new US administration introduced policies that “incentivize migration”, human traffickers, known as coyotes, have stepped up cross-border smuggling operations that saw a slump under Trump.
The authorities said they were worried that Biden's “lax immigration policy” inspired the surge of Latin American immigrants from places like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, making a huge profit for organized crime cartels.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said people-trafficking gangs devised new strategies “from the day Biden took office” and now showed “unprecedented” sophistication.
“Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and YouTube are used to contact clients. The criminal gangs brief those they traffic on the latest immigration laws in the US, use technology to avoid getting arrested and even pose as travel agencies.”
Reports say asylum seekers are told where they might encounter checkpoints, which freight trains to jump on, and how they can use loopholes in immigration laws. For example, Central Americans are told to claim they are victims of extortion or face death threats from drug cartels and criminal gangs.
They are also advised to bring children along in order to take advantage of the legal system using easier ways of claiming asylum, according to Mexican intelligence reports.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said illegal immigrants were now being encouraged by Biden's immigration laws that would grant them US citizenship.
“They see him as the migrant president, and so many feel they’re going to reach the United States,” he said after a virtual meeting with Biden on March 1, in which he reportedly urged his US counterpart to provide more aid to Central America to help stem the increasing flow of Latin Americans asylum seekers headed to the United States.
Obrador added that Mexicans are joyous that Biden has talked about a “pathway to citizenship” for millions of Mexicans who are living in the US – many illegally – as well as halted construction of the controversial Trump border, and reversed Trump’s strict policies that kept tens of thousands of asylum-seekers in Mexico until their immigration requests were processed.
Special Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Southern Border, Roberta Jacobson, said Wednesday that Biden wanted to change the immigration system imposed by the previous administration which had intentionally made it worse.
"We must build a better immigration system that reflects our values as Americans, enforces our laws, safeguards public health, and moves away from cycles of irregular migration," she said.
"Today I’m here to talk about what we’re doing with partners in Mexico and Central America to ensure that people don’t make this dangerous journey and instead have opportunities for economic advancement and safety at home," Jacobson said.
The Biden administration has also been sharply criticized by both fellow Democrats and Republicans for its handling of the refugee crisis at the border.
The US president’s order to use Trump-era detainment facilities to house migrant children – which Democrats would often use to accuse Trump of putting “kids in cages” – has drawn criticism from both sides.