U.S. President Joe Biden (left) and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: Google

By MARK LORENZANA

The immigration issue needs to be a joint effort between Mexico and the United States, U.S. President Joe Biden told his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), during their conversation at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, Tuesday, July 12.

López Obrador urged Biden to adapt an aggressive program to resolve immigration problems, and suggested that Mexican and Central American workers from different professions be given temporary work visas in the United States. AMLO also asked the U.S. president to regularize “migrant workers who have been working honestly for several years” and “who are contributing to the development” of the United States.

Biden, however, asked López Obrador to be patient and said that the United States and Mexico needed to work together.

“I believe that working with you, working together, we will be able to overcome the challenges of both governments,” Biden said. “I do not want to suggest that there are no problems, because there are. But what you have to have is patience.”

Biden pointed out that the United States had already issued 300,000 visas to migrants under his term, and that there is a plan to double that number.

“My government is going to create legal opportunities for migrants, and last year we broke a record for the issuance of H2 visas, which were 300,000 visas. We are hoping to double that,” Biden said. “And we also reached historical levels in the last five years in issuing visas to Central Americans.”

Biden said that the focus should be on human trafficking and smuggling in the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We also have to attack this million-dollar human-smuggling industry that affects human beings, like the 53 people we found dead. We have to make a more coordinated and joint effort,” said Biden, referring to the tragedy on June 27, in which 53 undocumented migrants — mostly Mexicans — died after being trapped inside a trailer truck just outside San Antonio, Texas. Two Mexican nationals, who had overstayed their visas in the United States, were charged in a U.S. federal court in connection with the human-smuggling attempt.

López Obrador also suggested to Biden that taxes and tariffs on some food products be eliminated — in addition to reducing regulatory measures — in order to reduce costs and benefit consumers.

The meeting of the two leaders came a month after AMLO decided to skip the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, in protest to Biden’s decision to exclude the leftist governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

“Despite the overhyped headlines we sometimes see, you and I have a strong, productive relationship,” Biden told López Obrador.

Before AMLO’s meeting with Biden, the Mexican president met with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is tasked to address the root causes of migration to the United States from Central America — which include poverty, violence and climate change.

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