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US diplomat warns of major consequences for migrants at the border who do not choose a legal route

MARIANA MARTÍNEZ BARBA, Associated Press

8 minutes ago

FILE - U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar arrives to give a press conference at his residence in Mexico City, Oct. 17, 2022. Salazar warned Thursday, June 13, 2024, that migrants who do not choose a legal route to the U.S. will face “ big consequences.

FILE – U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar arrives to give a press conference at his residence in Mexico City, Oct. 17, 2022. Salazar warned Thursday, June 13, 2024, that migrants who do not choose a legal route to the U.S. will face “ big consequences.” (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar warned Thursday that migrants who do not choose a legal route to the U.S. will face dire consequences, a message that comes as the Biden administration demands Mexico’s cooperation needs to ease the flow of refugees. migrants to their shared border.

Salazar told reporters that the number of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border has fallen since US President Joe Biden implemented changes last week aimed at making it more difficult for asylum seekers. But he did not specify how much the number of encounters with migrants had fallen.


“If they don’t arrive legally, there will be consequences,” he said. “They will be returned to their home countries and will not enter the United States for the next five years.”

Biden’s executive order would limit asylum processing once the number of migrant encounters between ports of entry reaches 2,500 per day. It took effect immediately as the latest figures were much higher at around 4,000 per day.

Civil rights groups have responded quickly to the policy changes. A coalition of immigrant advocacy groups sued the Biden administration on Wednesday, saying the presidential order is little different from a similar move by the Trump administration that was blocked by the courts.

South of the border, Mexican authorities have rounded up migrants, including those sent back by the U.S., and taken them to the southern cities of Villahermosa and Tapachula in an effort to discourage them from migrating north.

The head of the U.N. refugee agency warned Thursday that some aspects of Biden’s order could conflict with refugee protections required by international law.

Cooperation on immigration was also among the topics discussed Thursday when U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris called new Mexican President Claudia Sheinbaum to congratulate her on her victory, according to a statement from Harris’ office.

“Our goal is clear,” Salazar said. “We want to deepen the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico as neighbors, economic partners and as families.”

Salazar declined to give his opinion on the controversial judicial reforms proposed by outgoing Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Earlier this week, Brian Nichols, the U.S. assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, urged transparency in Mexico’s judicial reforms, especially regarding the potential impact they could have on U.S. investors and companies.

Salazar said a strong legal system was important, but it was up to Mexicans to decide on the changes.

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Follow AP’s coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean at https://apnews.com/hub/latin-america

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