Lowering US immigration requires Mexico co-operation, Harris

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US Vice President, Kamala Harris, claims that the United States and Mexico ‘must collaborate’ to reduce US immigration numbers from Mexico. Harris said issues such as violence and corruption in Central America need to be tackled to stop people fleeing to the US for a better life.


Harris’ appeal came during virtual talks on immigration with Mexican President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Harris told Lopez Obrador that it was in the ‘best interests of both Mexico and the US to tackle the root causes of migration from the so-called, Northern Triangle countries of Central America, which include El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

During the talks, the US Vice President said: “Together, we must fight violence. We must fight corruption and impunity. It is in our countries’ mutual interest to provide immediate relief to the Northern Triangle and to address the root causes of migration.”


Mexico agrees

Lopez Obrador agreed with Harris’ stance, saying: “Mexico agrees with the migration policies you are developing, and we are going to help. You can count on us.”

In a statement following the virtual meeting, spokesperson for the US Vice President, Symone Sanders, said: “The two leaders agreed to establish a strategic partnership to address economic underdevelopment and other factors that cause migration from the Northern Triangle.”

“Through this joint initiative, the United States and Mexico will leverage their expertise and resources to tackle a range of challenges, including lack of employment, limited market access, and deforestation and regional instability caused by climate change,” the statement added.


Biden tasks Harris

In March, US President Joe Biden had tasked Harris with leading his administration’s effort to stem the flow of immigrants arriving at the US southern border with Mexico, where more than 20,000 unaccompanied children have entered the US since Biden took office in January.

Last month, Harris outlined her US immigration plan for the southern border, saying: “Most people don’t want to leave home, and when they do, it is often because they are fleeing some harm or they are forced to leave because there are no opportunities. Addressing these issues is key to our plans.”

Prior to his meeting with Harris, Lopez Obrador told reporters that aside form US immigration, he would discuss a tree-planting jobs program in Central America, which he claimed would help participants to secure US work visas.

The program was first mooted during a climate summit in Washington in April, with many surprised by the proposal.


Understanding one another

Following the virtual talks with Harris, Lopez Obrador said: “It is in our best interests based on our political, historical and friendship relations. Sometimes there have been differences among us. However, we have a common border that is over 3,000 kilometers long, and we need to understand one another.”

Harris is set to visit Mexico and Guatemala on the 7th and 8th of June to ‘search for solutions’ to the US immigration challenge. This will be her first foreign visit as US Vice President.

Ahead of the virtual meeting, Lopez Obrador had accused the US of ‘violating Mexico’s sovereignty’ by authorizing funding to an anti-corruption organization that criticized his government.

The Mexican President claimed that the anti-corruption group, Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity, which investigates political corruption, had tried to undermine his government. Lopez Obrador described the funding for the group from the US Agency for International Development as ‘promoting a form of coup’. 

He said that his government had sent a diplomatic letter asking the US to explain the funding. However, he said that this matter was not on the agenda during the virtual talks with Harris. The Mexican President said: “It’s not our intention to create a bad atmosphere.”


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