April 12 (UPI) -- The United States has reached agreements with Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala for beefed-up military and police commitments to help stem the flow of migrants, the Biden administration said Monday.
Under the effort, Mexico will station 10,000 troops along its southern border with Guatemala, while that country will dispatch 1,500 military and police personnel to its own southern flank with Honduras, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
Honduras, she said, has also "agreed to set up 12 checkpoints along the migratory route" and had "surged 7,000 police and military to disperse a large contingent of migrants" heading into Guatemala bound for Mexico and the United States.
Psaki said the agreements had been forged in recent weeks with the help of Biden administration "border czar" Roberta Jacobson, who announced Friday she's stepping down from the role at the end of April.
The press secretary did not offer any details on how the three nations would carry out the effort, but added, "I think the objective is to make it more difficult to make the journey and make crossing the borders more difficult."
The announcement came amid a spike in immigration at the southwest border that has particularly strained federal officials tasked with dealing with unaccompanied minors.
The number of migrants stopped at the southwest border in March rose to the highest monthly level in more than 20 years, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures released Thursday.
The agency said it had 172,331 "encounters" in March, a roughly 70% spike over February and a five-fold increase over the same month in 2020, prompting attacks from Republicans against Biden for "creating a border crisis" by reversing some of the immigration policies imposed by former President Donald Trump.
White House Domestic Policy Council aide Tyler Moran told MSNBC that major hurricanes and a drought in Central America have added to the migration pressure and that the administration is attempting to address the economic "root causes" the surge.
The stationing of additional troops at the Mexico-Guatemala border "not only is going to prevent the traffickers, and the smugglers, and cartels that take advantage of the kids on their way here, but also to protect those children," she said.