Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador agreed to spend $1.5 billion over the next two years to improve “smart” border technology during meetings Tuesday with President Joe Biden — a move the White House says shows neighborly cooperation succeeding where Trump administration vows to wall off the border and have Mexico pay for it could not.
A series of agreements the two countries hammered out as their leaders spoke called for several other concrete moves, including expanding the number of work visas the U.S. issues, creating a bilateral working group on labor migration pathways and worker protections and welcoming more refugees. Both also pledged to continue joint patrols for Mexico and Guatemala to hunt human smugglers along their shared border.
But the Biden administration hailed securing border funding from Mexico after years of failed attempts by former President Donald Trump.
“Borders that are more resilient, more efficient, and safer, will enhance our shared commerce,” Biden and López Obrador said in a joint official statement. “We are committed like never before to completing a multi-year joint U.S.-Mexico border infrastructure modernization effort for projects along the 2,000-mile border.”
The agreements came after López Obrador began the discussions by talking for more than half an hour as reporters looked on. His far-ranging discourse touched on everything from American drivers heading south for cheaper prices at the pump at Mexican gas stations to the New Deal politics of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He also chiding conservatives and said the U.S. and Mexico should reject the “status quo” on the border.
López Obrador said both countries “should close ranks to help each other” amid spiking inflation and border challenges brutally underscored by 53 migrants who died last month after being abandoned in a sweltering tractor-trailer on a remote back road in San Antonio.
“Increasing inflation impacts the well-being of families in both our countries, and requires strong, immediate, and concerted action,” the joint statement said. “That is why we have committed to jointly combat inflation by accelerating the facilitation of bilateral trade and reducing trade costs.”