February 1, 2023

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Biden and Mexico’s Lopez Obrador find common ground on immigration in talks: NPR

President Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have found common ground in talks about immigration, the economy, and banning fentanyl.

Fernando Llano / AP


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Fernando Llano / AP

President Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have found common ground in talks about immigration, the economy, and banning fentanyl.

Fernando Llano / AP

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador may have been one of the last world leaders to congratulate President Biden when he took office, but two days of talks helped turn around what was initially a turbulent relationship.

The leaders found common ground on immigration, economic integration, and banning fentanyl. Lopez Obrador, notoriously a rebel, ended his meetings with nothing but praise for Biden, particularly on issues related to immigration across the border separating their two countries.

“You are the first president of the United States in a very long time who hasn’t built even one meter of wall. We thank you for that, sir,” López Obrador said, praising Biden as a “man of conviction” at the end. North American Leaders Summit.

It was a significant shift in tone, said Rafael Fernandez de Castro, director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of California San Diego.

“The personal relationship between Biden and López Obrador goes full circle, from being somewhat distant two years ago, as AMLO took a long time to get to know and congratulate Biden, to now having fully embraced him in a very friendly and political way,” said Fernandez de Castro.

The thaw follows A new program announced by Biden Before his trip, it will allow up to 30,000 immigrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti to live and work temporarily in the United States, provided they apply for asylum from outside the country, among other conditions.

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Lopez Obrador praised the program, and encouraged Biden to work with Congress on a path to citizenship for Mexicans who have lived and worked in the United States for years after crossing the border illegally.

President Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador depart for a long motorcade ride after Air Force One lands at Philip Angeles International Airport on January 8.

Claudio Cruz/AFP via Getty Images


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President Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador depart for a long motorcade ride after Air Force One lands at Philip Angeles International Airport on January 8.

Claudio Cruz/AFP via Getty Images

Biden made up for lost time with Lopez Obrador on this trip

López Obrador chose to boycott the large regional summit that Biden hosted in Los Angeles last summer. Last summer’s Oval Office meeting saw the left-wing leader hit on some politically sensitive issues, such as US gasoline prices.

Biden who He puts a lot of shares in the development of personal relationships With world leaders, they spent far less time with López Obrador than they did with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who worked with Biden on issues at the G7 and G20, and joined the leaders in Mexico City.

The White House made an effort on this trip to accommodate one of López Obrador’s domestic political issues, landing Air Force One at Felipe Angeles International Airport instead of the more convenient and central Benito Juarez International Airport.

Lopez Obrador was there to greet Biden on the tarmac.

Biden had the chance to ride with President Lopez Obrador from the airport to the city, giving them the chance to have a one-on-one conversation about how they see the world right now, what’s on their minds, Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters. “I think they benefited a lot from that,” he said.

Their meetings in Mexico City get off to an awkward start

Biden had a bumpy start to the talks on Monday when what was supposed to be some brief opening pleasantries turned into a contentious debate about the history of US support for Latin America.

López Obrador told Biden that the United States had done little to support development in Latin America since President John F. Kennedy’s spending on the Alliance for Progress in the early 1960s.

“It was the only significant thing, really, that was done in terms of cooperation for development on our continent in more than half a century,” said López Obrador.

“This is the moment when we decide to get rid of this abandonment, this contempt, this oblivion of Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.

Biden took up the case However, he said, noting that the US government has spent “tens of billions of dollars in the hemisphere” over the past 15 years. “The United States provides more foreign aid than any other country, combined, in the world — not just to one hemisphere, but all over the world,” said Biden López Obrador.

“Unfortunately, our response doesn’t end in the Western Hemisphere: It’s in the middle of Europe. It’s in Asia. It’s in the Middle East. It’s in Africa,” he said. “I wish we could only have one focus.”

Trump’s shadow hung over the meetings

The Mexico City meeting was the first visit to the country by a US leader since former President Barack Obama last visited in 2014.

Former President Donald Trump has largely abandoned regular summits with Mexico and Canada amid battles over trade and immigration.

In remarks at the end of the summit, Biden called immigration levels in the hemisphere “unprecedented” and noted that he had stopped in El Paso, Texas, before the meeting — a city grappling with large numbers of immigrants.

“We can’t isolate ourselves from common problems,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s border wall project.

Trudeau of Canada also referred to Trump’s tariffs and trade policies, without naming him.

“People remember what happened just a few years ago when the certainty of this partnership was in question,” Trudeau said. “Investors, companies, workers and citizens are all worried about what will happen,” he said, noting that “free and fair trade has triumphed.”

Trudeau said it was important for the three countries to work together on the economy in the face of global uncertainty, the rise of authoritarian leaders, and the increasing cost of living.