By Colleen Lengthy and Aamer Madhani | Related Press
SAN FRANCISCO — President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pledged Friday to work side-by-side to confront illicit fentanyl trafficking into the U.S. and to handle the rising variety of migrants touring north to the border between their nation.
“Nothing is past our attain for my part if Mexico and america stand collectively and work collectively,” Biden mentioned.
Biden’s relationship with López Obrador has at occasions been tense, partly due to Biden’s willingness to criticize Mexico on subjects reminiscent of fentanyl manufacturing and the killing of journalists. And López Obrador isn’t afraid to snub the U.S. chief. He skipped a Los Angeles summit final 12 months the place leaders tackled the difficulty of migration as a result of the U.S. didn’t invite Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela. He additionally initially mentioned he would skip this 12 months’s APEC convention, however modified his thoughts.
The 2 males have been all smiles and compliments earlier than the press on Friday, with Biden telling López Obrador: “I couldn’t have a greater accomplice than you,” and the Mexican chief calling Biden a “good man” and an “extraordinary president.”
They have been in San Francisco for the annual Asia-Pacific Financial Cooperation convention, the place Biden has held a sequence of face-to-face conferences with different leaders, together with China’s President Xi Jinping and the leaders of Japan and South Korea, as he seeks to reassure the area that the U.S. and China are opponents, not zero-sum rivals.
Biden and Lopez Obrador set to work speaking migration because the U.S. strains to handle a rising variety of southern border crossings.
In addition they mentioned lethal fentanyl trafficking, significantly after Biden secured an settlement with Xi to curb the illicit opioid. Mexico and China are the first sources for artificial fentanyl trafficked into the U.S. Almost all of the chemical substances wanted to make it come from China, and the medication are then mass-produced in Mexico and trafficked by way of cartels into the U.S.
“I need to inform you about my nice dialog with Xi Jinping on that concern,” Biden informed López Obrador.
The problems of fentanyl and immigration are associated. Human smuggling over the border is part of cartel operations that additionally embrace drug trafficking into the U.S.
“We’re working side-by-side to fight organized crime,” Biden mentioned.
The highly effective opioid is the deadliest drug within the U.S. immediately. Greater than 100,000 deaths a 12 months have been linked to drug overdoses since 2020 and about two-thirds of these are associated to fentanyl. The annual demise toll is greater than 10 occasions the extent in 1988, on the top of the crack epidemic.
“We’re conscious of the injury it poses to the America youth,” López Obrador mentioned by means of an interpreter.
And migration challenges going through the U.S. are rising more and more intractable. Democratic leaders on the state and native stage are begging for federal help to assist take care of migrant households residing in squalid shelters and sleeping in police stations. Republicans are loudly essential of Biden’s border insurance policies as too lax. And Congress has not handed an immigration overhaul in a long time.
Biden requested for $14 billion from Congress for border safety however the short-term spending invoice he simply signed didn’t have funding for the border, Ukraine assist or Israel.
There are rising numbers of migrants on the border. Arrests for unlawful crossings alongside the U.S.-Mexico line have been up 21% to 218,763 in September, and Biden has repeatedly mentioned Congress ought to act to repair outdated immigration legal guidelines. However within the meantime, his administration has developed insurance policies that intention to discourage migrants from making a harmful and sometimes lethal journey whereas additionally opening up new authorized immigration pathways.
Mexico’s help is essential to any push by the U.S. to clamp down on the southern border, significantly as migrants from nations as far-off as Haiti are making the trek on foot up by means of Mexico and are usually not simply despatched again to their residence international locations.
López Obrador mentioned the administration’s insurance policies of cracking down on unlawful crossings whereas opening up different authorized pathways for others to return to the U.S. lawfully was “a humane technique to deal with the migration phenomenon.”
Earlier this 12 months, Mexico agreed to proceed to simply accept migrants from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua who’re turned away on the border, and as much as 100,000 folks from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who’ve household within the U.S. can be eligible to reside and work there.
In response to knowledge on asylum-seekers in Mexico, folks from Haiti remained on the high with 18,860 to this point this 12 months, increased than the entire for the entire of 2022.
In the meantime, the U.S. is accepting 30,000 folks per thirty days from the 4 international locations for 2 years and providing them the power to work, so long as they arrive legally, have eligible sponsors and go vetting and background checks.
Guatemala and Colombia will open regional hubs the place folks can go to make asylum claims within the hope of stopping them from touring on foot. However Mexico has to this point refused to permit the U.S. to set one up.
López Obrador mentioned earlier that he would additionally use Friday’s assembly with Biden to take up the case for Cuba and would urge his U.S. counterpart to renew a dialogue with the island nation and finish U.S. sanctions.
Related Press author Christopher Sherman in Mexico Metropolis contributed to this report.