Tense Meeting for Biden, Mexican President


President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador | Image by Silvana Flores/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told President Joe Biden on Sunday that the United States needed to stop acting with “disdain” toward Latin American countries.

This was Biden’s first trip to Mexico since he was elected president.

After a meeting where the smiling leaders shook hands, tensions quickly bubbled to the surface.

“This is the moment for us to determine to do away with this abandonment, this disdain, and this forgetfulness for Latin America and the Caribbean,” López Obrador said, complaining that too many products were being made in Asia when they could be made in the Americas.

“We ask ourselves; couldn’t we produce in America what we consume?” López Obrador said. “Of course.”

Some of the topics discussed when the leaders met included fentanyl smuggling and unlawful migration, as well as climate and economics.

Biden appeared to defend the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars spent on foreign aid, but also remarked, “Unfortunately our responsibility just doesn’t end in the Western Hemisphere,” referencing the fentanyl crisis.

Prior to traveling to Mexico, Biden stopped in El Paso, explaining that the visit was primarily to “assess border enforcement operations, meet with the local officials and community leaders and the folks at the border sending me what they need that they don’t have.”

Republicans have routinely criticized Biden for his relative inaction on the southern border crisis.

Biden’s relationship with López Obrador is somewhat fraught. The Mexican president boycotted a summit in Los Angeles last year and did not congratulate Biden on his election win.

The visit comes on the heels of Biden’s announcement Thursday regarding new rules for immigration.

The new framework builds on the success of an October plan to stop Venezuelans from crossing illegally into the United States under the pandemic-era Title 42 law.

“Instead of safe and orderly process at the border, we’ve a patchwork system that simply doesn’t work as it should,” Biden said.

Title 42 provides for the quick expulsion of unlawful migrants from countries that present a public health risk. It has been active since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Title 42 is currently being contested in court by the administration. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts in December put a hold on an order to end the policy, as The Dallas Express reported.

Although the new rules are not an official expansion of Title 42, they will allow for more Title 42 expulsions. The Biden administration anticipates sending 30,000 migrants from Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua back to Mexico every month.

The president explained that the United States currently does not have enough immigration officers to make a determination about whether those crossing the border qualify for asylum under the law, and that there are not enough judges to adjudicate asylum claims.

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