Mexico could accept more migrants deported by the United States

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador said Monday ahead of this week’s North American leaders’ summit that he would consider accepting more migrants than previously announced under the government’s plan. President Joe Biden to deny people from four countries who cross illegally into the United States.

“We don’t want to pre-empt things, but that’s part of what we’re going to talk about at the summit,” López Obrador said. “We support these kinds of measures, to give people options, alternatives,” he said, adding that “the numbers can be increased.”

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, warned that nothing was decided yet.

“What we need is to see how the program announced last week works in practice, and if any adjustments need to be made to this program, then we can talk about the next steps,” he said. .

The comments were a reflection of the highly sensitive negotiations over migration, which will be a central issue at the two-day summit involving Biden, López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

All three countries are struggling to manage an influx of people arriving in North America, as well as cracking down on smugglers who profit from persuading migrants to make the dangerous journey to the United States.

Other issues on the table include climate change, energy and supply chains.

Sullivan said Monday the trip would be “a good opportunity for President Biden to deepen his personal engagement with President López Obrador and Prime Minister Trudeau.”

Ahead of the summit, Biden announced a major shift in migration policy, which had been negotiated with Mexico. Under the plan, the United States will return 30,000 migrants a month from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela across the border among those who entered the United States illegally. Migrants arriving from these four countries are not easily returned to their countries of origin for various reasons.

In addition, 30,000 people per month from these four countries who obtain sponsors, background checks and an air flight to the United States will have the opportunity to work legally in the country for two years.

Biden arrived in Mexico on Sunday evening via the new Felipe Angeles International Airport, a popular project of the Mexican president. The hub was named last year with fanfare, despite being over an hour’s drive north of the city centre, with few flights and until recently lacking ‘potable water.

The two leaders made the long drive to downtown in Biden’s limo. López Obrador was fascinated by the presidential vehicle known as “the beast”, and said Biden showed it to him.

“He himself showed me how the buttons work,” Lopez Obrador said.

The Mexican president described the first meeting of the two leaders of the trip as “very pleasant” and said that “President Biden is a friendly person”.

It was an especially warm comment given that the relationship between the men has been transactional at best and lacking the warmth and camaraderie that Biden has with some other world leaders.

En route to Mexico, Biden stopped in El Paso, Texas, for four hours – his first trip to the border as president. and the longest he passed along the US-Mexico line. The visit was highly controlled and appeared designed to counter Republican claims of a crisis situation by presenting a smooth operation to process migrants entering legally, weed out contraband smuggling, and treat those who entered illegally humanely.

But the trip is unlikely to do much to appease critics on both sides, including immigrant advocates who accuse the Democratic president of establishing cruel policies similar to those of his hardline predecessor, Republican Donald Trump.

The number of immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border increased dramatically in Biden’s first two years in office. There were more than 2.38 million shutdowns in the year ending September 30, the first time the number topped 2 million.

López Obrador will officially welcome Biden to the Palacio Nacional later Monday, the first time since 2014 that Mexico has hosted a US president. The two leaders will meet before a private dinner for the three leaders and their wives. Biden and Trudeau will hold their own talks on Tuesday, then the three leaders will meet for the main talks at the summit.

First lady Jill Biden arrived separately in Mexico. On Monday, she met with women in education, art and business, most of them recipients of co-op programs or US scholarships.

“Do what you want, but teach others,” she said of encouraging women to work together and support others.

For the United States, the main talking points of the summit are migration, drug trafficking and the continuation of Biden’s push on electric vehicles and manufacturing. Mexico focuses on North American economic integration, support for the Americas’ poor, and regional relationships that place all governments on an equal footing. Canada is looking to expand its green initiatives.

Leaders of Canada and Mexico have expressed concerns over Biden’s ‘Buy American’ plan. And while Biden’s push toward electric vehicles is a boon to both American neighbors because of North American battery tax credits, there are fears that American allies could be left behind.

Meanwhile, the United States and Canada accuse López Obrador of trying to favor Mexico’s public utility over power plants built by foreign and private investors, which is prohibited by the free trade pact of the three countries. .

Biden’s relationship with Trudeau is warmer than with Lopez Obrador, but he still hasn’t arrived in Canada during his presidency, despite White House officials saying for months he plans to head to north after an Americas summit in Los Angeles last fall.

Lopez Obrador skipped the California summit because Biden did not invite the authoritarian regimes of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. He also made no secret of his admiration for Trump. And he was one of only three world leaders who did not acknowledge Biden’s election victory until after the official Electoral College vote and the Jan. 6 insurrection. at the United States Capitol.

Despite the strained relationship, they recognize the importance of each other, said Andrew Selee, head of the immigration think tank Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

“They are both accomplished politicians,” he said. “They look for what the other person needs, and they try to clarify what they need. It’s very transactional. There is no grand vision for the relationship right now.

For Biden, that meant flying into the new airport, one of four key projects López Obrador is finishing before his term ends next year because Mexico does not allow re-election. Other projects are an oil refinery, a tourist train in the Yucatan Peninsula and a train linking the Gulf Coast and Pacific seaports.

López Obrador has been the subject of much criticism regarding the airport which is expected to cost $4.1 billion and was built after canceling the partially constructed airport created by its predecessor. During the construction of Felipe Angeles in 2020, hundreds of mammoth skeletons have been discovered.

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Associated Press writers Andres Leighton in El Paso, Texas; Anita Snow in Phoenix; Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Mark Stevenson in Mexico City and Chris Megerian and Josh Boak in Washington contributed to this report.

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