Biden, Mexican president eye ‘significantly’ reducing border crossings

Biden, Mexican president eye ‘significantly’ reducing border crossings

President Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador agreed to implement a plan to reduce border crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border over the short term, the White House said.

The two presidents on Sunday discussed the broad strokes of migration in the Western Hemisphere, but zeroed in on plans with immediate consequences, according to a readout of a call between the two leaders.

“The two leaders discussed how to effectively manage hemispheric migration, strengthen operational efficiency on our shared border, and thereby improve the security and prosperity of citizens of both countries,” read the joint statement.

“In the short term, the two leaders ordered their national security teams to work together to immediately implement concrete measures to significantly reduce irregular border crossings while protecting human rights.”

López Obrador has become an increasingly important partner for the Biden administration to keep border crossing numbers down, amid presidential elections in both countries.

On Monday, López Obrador commented on the call with Biden during his daily hours-long press conference, speaking of “keeping the border open so those who are in legal processes can enter the United States.”

López Obrador has long pushed the United States toward a more holistic approach to migration, and an expansion of work permits and visas for Mexican nationals.

But he took office in 2018, amid the Trump administration’s crackdown on border crossings, and proved a willing partner for Trump-era policies like the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols, better known as “remain in Mexico.”

And a drop in U.S.-Mexico border crossings has largely been attributed to increased Mexican enforcement of migration controls, including at times preventing migrants from using freight trains to traverse the country.

“If Mexican forces violate migrants’ rights along the way — either directly or by omission, letting organized crime violate their rights — the Biden administration is silent about it,” said Adam Isacson, director of defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America.

Mexican migration enforcement, however, has raised allegations of human rights violations along the U.S.-Mexico border, in the interior of the country, and along the country’s southern border with Guatemala.

While López Obrador is seen as a key player in Biden’s chances for reelection, he is scheduled to hand over power to his successor on Oct. 1, roughly a month before the U.S. presidential election.

López Obrador’s chosen successor, former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, is the heavy favorite to win the election in June, and she is expected to keep most of López Obrador’s policies.

Ildefonso Guajardo, the foreign policy coordinator for opposition presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez, mocked López Obrador for making nice with Biden after spending most of last week railing against the United States over Mexico’s negative depiction in the State Department’s annual human rights report.

“What a coincidence that when the #US State Department does its job, pointing out the violations of human and democratic rights in Mexico, [López Obrador] takes a dive so that [Biden] can rub his boo-boo,” wrote Guajardo on X.

—Updated at 3:16 p.m.

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