A month after skipping the Americas summit, Pres. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador met with U.S. Pres. Joe Biden on Tuesday at the White House, in the midst of increasing tensions connected to migration.
Biden noted a need to address “migration as a shared hemispheric challenge” in his statements before the meeting. He also noted that the country’s long-time ally and neighbor, Mexico is an “equal partner.”
Biden also mentioned that his administration was expanding pathways of legally getting employment in the U.S. from Mexico and Central America, citing the country’s “record” of 300,000 temporary work visas given to Mexican workers last year.
Biden, Lopez Obrador Discuss Plans to Curb Migration Crisis
Additionally, he thanked the Mexican president for “stepping up” and granting visas to migrants from Central America in Mexico.
He then called for a “bold program” that aims to tackle migration issues, urging the United States – which is currently facing a labor shortage – to let more skilled Mexican and Central American laborers enter the country and “support” the workforce.
“It is indispensable for us to regularize and give certainty to migrants who for years have lived and worked in a very honest manner and are also contributing to the development of this great nation,” Lopez Obrador said.
The Mexican president then acknowledged the possible animosity that would likely come from US Republican politicians, who believe Biden had failed to protect and secure the country’s southern border against unauthorized crossings.
In a joint statement released following their meeting, the two leaders revealed that Mexico had promised to invest $1.5 billion on border infrastructure from 2022 to 2024.
The two presidents also discussed security and economic cooperation during Tuesday’s meeting. This includes the need for investments in Central American development projects that may deter people from leaving the region.
Last year, the two countries agreed to overhaul the way they fight against drug trafficking to address migration root causes and ramp up efforts to lessen cross-border arms smuggling.