The United States has begun construction work along the US-Mexico border in southern New Mexico to replace existing barriers with a new wall.
US Customs and Border Protection officials gathered on Monday to mark the groundbreaking of the $73-million project at Santa Teresa near New Mexico’s state line with Texas.
Officers in the area, who are responsible for monitoring the sprawling desert territory that spans from West Texas to New Mexico, claim the area is an active route for migrant crossings and drug trafficking.
Meanwhile, a “caravan” traveling through Mexico and toward the US arrived in Mexico City on Monday.
The group of at least 200 Central American asylum seekers who are headed from Mexico City to the US-Mexico border said they would go on to seek US asylum.
For many members of the group, the arduous trek to the capital began days or weeks before from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.
Honduran Misael George, with his three children and his wife, said that he wanted to seek asylum in the US. He fled Honduras after a close relative was killed by a gang, and the threat spread to his family, he said. But with no proof on paper, he knew his chances for claiming asylum were slim.
“Difficult, yes,” he said. “But not impossible.”
Mexico to review US ties
Separately, Mexico decided to reconsider its diplomatic relations with the United States in response to mounting frustration in the country over US President Donald Trump’s antagonistic attitude toward its southern neighbor.
Mexico announced the decision on Monday, one day after President Enrique Pena Nieto criticized the escalating anti-Mexico stance in a meeting with his cabinet.
Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said the review would cover all aspects of bilateral relations between the countries, including immigration, border control, and trade.
US authorities recognize Mexico as the leading transshipment point for illicit drugs entering the US market; and last week, thousands of US reserve troops in the two border states of Texas and Arizona were ordered to combat illegal immigration and drug trufficking.
Analysts monitoring bilateral relations between the US and Mexico believe the move to deploy US troops had prompted Mexico’s government to call for the review.
Videgaray said the review is to be done under the supervision of the Foreign Ministry.
In response to Mexico, the US announced that Washington considered the review of cooperation as a positive development, seemingly mistaking the development as a prelude to the enhancement of ties and not a downgrading of cooperation, as it may actually lead to.
White House Spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferre said the Trump administration welcomed the review of bilateral relations and “continues to do the same with Mexico.”
“President Trump looks forward to working with the president of Mexico and other leaders of the Western Hemisphere who share our democratic values and celebrate the promotion of free and fair trade at the Summit of the Americas in Peru,” she said.
The summit takes place in Lima on April 13-14.