By Pedro Pablo Cortes
Mexico City, Jul 11 (EFE).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador traveled Monday to Washington for a meeting with United States counterpart Joe Biden, a visit that comes amid growing demands in his homeland for the US to regularize the status of undocumented migrants – nearly half of whom are Mexican – and inflationary pressures affecting both countries.
AMLO said the meeting will “reaffirm the commitment to work together for the benefit” of the peoples of Mexico and the US, adding that migration will be a key priority in the talks and that his administration also is seeking greater economic assistance for the regions of southern Mexico and Central America.
“We’re also going to discuss the inflation issue. It’s a global issue, and we can unite and work jointly to control inflation in the United States and in Mexico” through bilateral measures, the president said at his regular morning press conference in Mexico City before traveling via commercial jet to Washington.
The visit comes just over a month after he skipped the June 6-10 Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in protest over the exclusion of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The US says it made that decision due to concerns about a lack of democracy and respect for human rights in those three countries.
“There’s significant concern about the issues that are on the table, but this type of gathering was necessary, urgent and of great strategic importance in lending certainty about improved relations,” Arlene Ramirez Uresti, a professor of international relations at Mexico City’s Ibero-American University and Tecmilenio University, told Efe.
The meeting also underscores Mexico’s increasingly important role in US policy, particularly in light of record migratory flows and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, said William Jensen, an associate at the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations think tank.
“Both Biden and Lopez Obrador have understood that bilateral ties should be a priority, especially since many of the issues of concern to their voters – migration and the economy, among them – depend to a large degree on the Mexico-US relationship,” the analyst said.
In the lead-up to the meeting, Lopez Obrador leveled renewed criticism at US immigration policy after 53 migrants – 26 of them Mexican – were found dead on June 27 in an abandoned tractor-trailer on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas.
On Monday, AMLO reiterated that he will ask Biden to issue temporary visas for Mexican and Central American workers and continue to push for an immigration overhaul that would put the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants in the US on a path to citizenship.
Biden and most of his Democratic allies are strong proponents of an overhaul, but so-called comprehensive immigration reform is highly unpopular among many Republican voters, who see it as nothing more than amnesty for lawbreakers.
Immigration reform has little chance of passage in the 50-50 US Senate because under that body’s filibuster rules 10 Republicans would have to join with their political adversaries in supporting such a bill.
Lopez Obrador also will put forth a plan to tackle high inflation, which climbed to an annual rate of 7.99 percent in June, its highest level in 21 years. In the US, annual inflation rose to 8.6 percent in May, its highest jump in 40 years.
Ramirez Uresti, however, said the idea that a Mexican proposal to lower inflation would prosper is a “highly unfeasible” proposition due to the “independence and sovereignty of government organs in the United States.”
Lopez Obrador will have breakfast on Tuesday with US Vice President Kamala Harris and then hold a bilateral meeting with Biden.
In the afternoon, he will pay special tribute to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945).
Lopez Obrador described FDR as one of the best US heads of states and a leader who respected the Mexican government’s decision to nationalize all petroleum reserves, facilities and foreign oil companies in Mexico on March 18, 1938.
AMLO later will participate in a ceremony in honor of US civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968).
Before returning to his homeland on Wednesday, Lopez Obrador will meet with business leaders from Mexico and the US. EFE