US border agency chief meets with authorities in Mexico over migrant surge

ByMorgan Winsor ABCNews logo
Monday, September 25, 2023

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Sunday that the agency's top official has met with authorities in Mexico to work on ways to better secure their shared border.

Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller traveled to Ciudad Juarez, a Mexican city on the Rio Grande, just south of El Paso, Texas, where he met with senior officials from the Mexican government and the railway industry on Friday.

During those discussions, Miller "urged coordination of efforts to diminish surging irregular migration, and continuation of lawful trade and travel while reiterating the need for coordinated engagement -- to include mirrored patrols with local Mexican law enforcement agencies," CBP said in a press release.

Miller also "noted his appreciation for the continuing attention to dangerous migrant travel aboard railcars" and "discussed the impact that increased resource needs being devoted to processing inadmissible noncitizens has on CBP's enforcement mission and operations at the ports of entry," according to the press release.

"We are continuing to work closely with our partners in Mexico to increase security and address irregular migration along our shared border," Miller said in a statement Sunday. "The United States and Mexico remain committed to stemming the flow of irregular migration driven by unscrupulous smugglers, while maintaining access to lawful pathways."

On Saturday, CBP announced the resumption of operations at the international railway crossing bridge in Eagle Pass, Texas.

The United States has been grappling with a surge of unauthorized crossings of migrants at its southwestern border after so-called Title 42 restrictions expired in May, when the federal government lifted the national public health emergency for COVID-19. The restrictions were a pandemic-related immigration policy that allowed the U.S. to swiftly turn back migrants at its border with Mexico for the last three years in the name of protecting public health.

Many of the migrants are fleeing poverty and hardship in their home countries in Central and South America, but some are coming from as far as Asia.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Matt Rivers, airing Monday on "Good Morning America," U.S. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens said he believed the thousands of migrants who arrived in Eagle Pass, Texas, last week were by design. Organized crime draws the law enforcement focus there, he said, making it easier to smuggle people elsewhere.

"In terms of flow and the threats that we're seeing with fentanyl and with the criminal organizations that are our adversary, it's about as bad as I've ever seen it," Owens told ABC News.

Owens wants more agents and resources in response to the surge, hoping something will change. He said his agency's ability to respond to the current amount of migrants at the border "isn't sustainable."

"This is up and down the system," he added. "Everybody is overwhelmed."

ABC News' Luke Barr and Matt Rivers contributed to this report.

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