Mexico sees migrant 'crisis' at US-Mexico border as numbers spike

Mexico's Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena speaks during a ministerial level meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the crisis in Ukraine at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 20, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Segar/ File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -There has been a "crisis" at the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena told reporters on Friday in Washington, speaking alongside senior officials from both countries.

Many more migrants have reached the border in recent weeks, prompting alarm from some U.S. leaders and leading to increased security checks at the frontier that have caused trade delays.

Barcena said Mexican officials were looking to carry out "assisted returns" of migrants to Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia, in addition to current deportation flights to the trio of Central American nations, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Barcena stressed a desire to improve trade at border crossings after a major rail freight operator suspended operations due to a surge of migrants jumping on cargo trains.

So far this year, over 400,000 migrants have crossed the perilous Darien Gap linking Colombia with Panama, already marking an all-time high and nearly double the figure over all of last year.

In May, the United States rolled out a new policy to deter illegal crossings, including deporting migrants and banning re-entry for five years, while also expanding legal pathways to entry for thousands.

Barcena has pushed for more action to prevent the trafficking of U.S. guns into Mexico, where many find their way into the hands of powerful drug cartels.

At the Friday briefing, U.S. officials flagged the possibility of stronger collaboration over semiconductor manufacturing, while Mexican officials said a resolution regarding a U.S.-Mexico trade dispute over genetically-modified corn could come by March of next year.

(Reporting by Kylie Madry, Raul Cortes and Sarah Morland; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Grant McCool)

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