US President Joe Biden held a meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday, with the latter pledging $ 1.5 billion to help improve “smart” border technology.
The decision shows a difference in how the two countries are working together after former President Trump’s desire to seal the border and make Mexico pay in full.
The two countries had reached a series of agreements when the leaders called for concrete measures, including increasing the number of work visas in the United States, the creation of a bilateral working group on labor migration routes, the protecting of workers and the entry of more refugees to 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 began 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 should reject the “status quo” at the border.
The Mexican president said the two countries “should close ranks to help each other” as inflation rises and border problems intensified after 53 migrants died in June after being left in a caravan on the back street of San Antonio.
“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.”
President Lopez Obrador’s sentiments
While President Lopez Obrador has never shied away from criticizing the United States, he shared a more upbeat mood during his meeting with Biden and praised 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 declined Obrador Biden’s invitation to attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles after he urged the United States to include leaders from undemocratic countries like Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, but to no avail..
The Mexican president also called for US support for Ukraine and criticized the country’s decision to seek military rather than financial aid from 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 leading Democrats for failing to find a solution. While 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.”
The border & migration efforts
In Tuesday’s announcements, Mexico and the United States pledged to take joint action to modernize and improve infrastructure along crucial 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 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 other legal migration options.