In the second and last stop of his first international trip as US vice president, Kamala Harris was in Mexico this Tuesday (8), where he continued the conversations about the immigration crisis in the USA.
“I deeply believe that we are entering a new era,” Kamala told Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, as reported by journalists who followed a small part of the meeting.
Investments for the region were also part of the visit’s itinerary. In addition to the $310 million (BRL 1.56 billion) aid that Kamala had already pledged to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and hurricanes that hit Central America last year, the US has pledged another $130 million (BRL 654.5m) to support workers’ rights in Mexico, plus a goal to create $250m (BRL1.26bn) in investments and sales in southern Mexico, according to a statement it did not provide. more details.
The vice president and López Obrador witnessed the signing of an agreement by Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, and the chargé d’affaires of the US embassy in the country, John Creamer, aimed at reducing the number of migrants from the so-called Northern Triangle —formed Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
The US and Mexico also agreed to set up a special group to combat trafficking in persons as part of the effort to curb the migration of undocumented people, following the task force announced by the US Department of Justice on Monday (7).
Both countries say they need to address the causes behind migration, such as poverty and violence, to stem the influx of people. Mexico detained 91,000 undocumented migrants in the first five months of the year, immigration officials said Monday, with minors accounting for a fifth of the total.
According to the vice president, the meeting with the Mexican president was a “frank conversation” that focused on the root causes of migration, covering issues such as security, vaccines, the pandemic and the drug fentanyl — a synthetic opioid that can reach a thousand times more potent than heroin.
The Mexican president, for his part, wrote on his Twitter account that the meeting was “pleasant and beneficial” for both sides.
Kamala did not say whether he used the meeting to pressure Mexico to intensify efforts to deter migrants, who often leave their countries in Central America for the US, fleeing poverty, violence and corruption.
“On the issue of border security, the work we are doing together includes the processing of migrants within Mexico and its southern border,” said the deputy after the meeting.
Kamala also countered criticism from Republicans for not having visited the border between the countries, saying he would go there.
Joe Biden’s administration has struggled to cope with the growing number of migrant families and children arriving at the border with Mexico, mostly from Central America, in the biggest US migration crisis in 20 years. To deal with the matter, sensitive to the White House, the president appointed his deputy, who left for Guatemala and Mexico on her first international trip.
López Obrador, who has built a good relationship with Donald Trump despite the former president’s economic threats and migration-related insults directed at Mexico, said his administration was keen to maintain those ties with Washington.
The Biden administration views its southern border neighbor as an important partner both in stemming the flow of migrants and in developing Central America, where relations between the governments and Washington are increasingly strained.
On Monday, the vice president was in Guatemala, where she met with the country’s representative, Alejandro Giammattei, and made a firm statement to those who intend to walk north: “Don’t come. The US will continue to enforce our laws and protect our borders. If you come, you will be sent back”.
On the same day, the US Department of Justice announced a task force to combat human trafficking in the region. Secretary Merrick Garland said the Joint Alpha team will pool resources from its department and the Homeland Security portfolio against the largest and most dangerous groups operating there.
According to the portfolio, the work will include federal prosecutors from Arizona, Southern California and South and West Texas, as well as public order agents and analysts from the Immigration and Customs Control Service (ICE) and the Customs Office. and Border Protection (CBP), as well as the FBI (US federal police) and the drug enforcement agency, DEA.