Biden, Mexico President to Meet 03/01 06:10
President Joe Biden is planning a virtual meeting Monday with Mexican
President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador -- a chance for the pair to talk more
fully about migration, confronting the coronavirus and cooperating on economic
and national security issues.
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- President Joe Biden is planning a virtual meeting
Monday with Mexican President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador --- a chance for the
pair to talk more fully about migration, confronting the coronavirus and
cooperating on economic and national security issues.
Mexico's president has said he intends during the meeting to propose to
Biden a new Bracero-style immigrant labor program that could bring 600,000 to
800,000 Mexican and Central American immigrants a year to work legally in the
A senior Biden administration official declined to say whether the U.S.
president would back or oppose the proposal, saying only that both countries
agree on the need to expand legal pathways for migration. The official insisted
on anonymity to discuss private conversations.
The original Bracero program allowed Mexicans to work temporarily in the
United States to fill labor shortages during World War II and for a couple of
decades after the war. Lpez Obrador said the U.S. economy needs Mexican
workers because of "their strength, their youth."
The Biden official said the meeting will enable Biden begin to
institutionalize the relationship with Mexico, rather than let it be determined
by tweets --- a preferred form of diplomacy by his predecessor, Donald Trump.
The United States shares a trade agreement --- most recently updated in 2018
and 2019 --- with Mexico and Canada, which are its second- and third-biggest
trade partners after China. The trade agreement could complicate Lpez
Obrador's efforts to possibly defund and eliminate independent regulatory,
watchdog and transparency agencies in Mexico.
There are also questions of whether Lpez Obrador will warm to Biden's
efforts to address climate change and move to cleaner energy sources. The
Mexican president supports a measure to make that country's national grids
prioritize power from government plants, many of which burn coal or fuel oil.
The Trump era was defined by the threat of tariffs, crackdowns on migration
and his desire to construct a wall on the U.S. southern border, yet Trump
appeared to enjoy an amicable relationship with his Mexican counterpart.
Mexico paid nothing for Trump's cherished border wall, despite the U.S.
leader's repeated claims that it would. But Lpez Obrador's government did send
troops to Mexico's southern border with Guatemala to deal with an unprecedented
wave of asylum-seekers bound for the U.S. Mexico hosted about 70,000 people
seeking U.S. asylum while they waited for dates in immigration courts, a policy
known as Remain in Mexico and officially as Migrant Protection Protocols.
The Biden administration immediately began to unwind Remain in Mexico,
suspending it for new arrivals on the president's first day in office and soon
after announcing that an estimated 26,000 people with still-active cases could
be released in the United States while their cases played out.
But Biden, through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has
kept extraordinary pandemic-related powers in place to immediately expel anyone
arriving at the U.S. border from Mexico without an opportunity to seek asylum.
Mexicans and many Central Americans are typically returned to Mexico in less
than two hours under Title 42 authority --- so named for a section of a 1944
public health law. Biden aides have signaled they have no immediate plans to
Yet Biden has also shown an openness to immigrants who previously came to
the country illegally. He is backing a bill to give legal status and a path to
citizenship to all of the estimated 11 million people in the country who don't
have it. Biden also broke with Trump by supporting efforts to allow hundreds of
thousands of people who came to the U.S. illegally as young children to remain
in the country.
Lpez Obrador said Saturday that an aging United States will also need
temporary immigrant workers from Mexico to sustain economic growth.
"It is better that we start putting order on migratory flows," he said he
plans to tell Biden.
But pressures are building at the U.S. southern border with an increase in
children crossing into the country without visas. This has created a challenge
for the Biden administration. Border Patrol agents are apprehending an average
of more than 200 children crossing the border without a parent per day, but
nearly all 7,100 beds for immigrant children maintained by the Department of
Health and Human Services are full.
The Biden administration has also preserved a policy, imposed at the start
of the COVID-19 outbreak, of quickly expelling people captured along the border
and has tried to dissuade people from attempting the journey.
"This is not the time to come to the United States," White House press
secretary Jen Psaki said at a February briefing. "We need the time to put in
place an immigration process so people can be treated humanely."