On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who pledged $1.5 billion to help improve “smart” border technology. The decision shows a difference in how the two countries are working together following former President Trump’s wishes to seal the border and make Mexico pay in full.
The two countries had reached a series of agreements as the leaders called for concrete measures, including increasing the number of American work visas, creating a bilateral working group on labor migration pathways, labor worker protection, and allowing more refugees into the United States.
The two countries also agreed to continue joint patrols in Mexico and Guatemala to track smugglers along their common borders.
Biden and Lopez Obrador released an official statement after their talks.
“Borders that are more resilient, more efficient, and safer, will enhance our shared commerce,” said the two Presidents. “We are committed like never before to completing a multi-year joint US-Mexico border infrastructure modernization effort for projects along the 2,000-mile border.”
Lopez Obrador started the discussion with topics like American drivers traveling south for cheaper gas prices from Mexican gas stations and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal policy. He also shared his critical view of conservatives, saying that the two countries must reject the “status quo” at the border.
The Mexican president said the two countries should “close ranks to help each other” as inflation escalates and border issues emerged after 53 migrants died in June after being left on a trailer along the back street of San Antonio.
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“Increasing inflation impacts the well-being of families in both our countries, and requires strong, immediate, and concerted action,” the joint statement continued. “This is why we have strongly committed to jointly combat inflation by accelerating the facilitation of bilateral trade and reducing trade costs.”
While President Lopez Obrador has never shied away from criticizing the United States, he shared a more optimistic sentiment during his meeting with Biden, praising Vice President Kamala Harris.
Biden echoed his sentiments, saying, “I see, we see Mexico as an equal partner. You and I have a strong and productive relationship and I would argue a partnership.”
Last month, Lopez turned down Obrador Biden’s invitation to attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles after he urged the United States to include leaders from the undemocratic countries of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, but to no avail.
The Mexican president also called out US support for Ukraine and criticized its decision to seek military funding rather than financial aid to Central America.
Immigration was a thorn in Biden’s side as Republicans pointed to the growing number of illegal migrants from Mexico and Central America and criticized top Democrats for failing to find a solution. Although Lopez acknowledged the critics, he pointed out that the border requires more than politics; it requires solutions.
“The way out is not through conservatism. The way out is through transformation,” he said. “Transform, not maintain the status quo.”
In Tuesday’s announcements, Mexico and the United States pledged to take joint action to modernize and improve infrastructure along key parts of the border and improve law enforcement cooperation while promoting clean energy.
Biden announced that a major anti-smuggling operation had been underway since April, arresting more than 3,000 fentanyl dealers. He also added that the two countries would continue to work together.
Additionally, the United States is expanding visa programs for workers from Mexico and Central America, while the pilot program explores more options for legal migration.
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