At summit, US, Canada and Mexico to address migration issue

WASHINGTON – President Biden will welcome Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico to...


WASHINGTON – President Biden will welcome Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico to the White House on Thursday, a diplomatic mission that seeks to strike a deal amid trade scuffles, accusations of US protectionism and abuses. lingering concerns over a wave of migration to the US-Mexico border.

The return from the top After a five-year hiatus under the Trump administration, North American leaders are showing an increased appetite for a sense of strategic and economic solidarity amid increasing competition from Asia and Europe.

The rally also comes at a critical time for the United States, as the breakdown of global supply chains and the mass movement of people across the Americas has made cooperation with Mexico and Canada more vital than ever.

Three senior administration officials said on Wednesday leaders would discuss creating more humane asylum routes or creating jobs for migrants displaced by climate change or human trafficking, but would not discuss policies that have become flashpoints for immigration activists, including a program that forces some asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are pending.

When asked how the migration issue could be discussed without mentioning these programs, an administration official said he could not discuss pending court cases.

Officials spoke anonymously to reporters to describe the details of the summit.

“In the end, getting back together will make a good impression,” said Tony Payan, director of the Mexico Center at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. “The bad news is that the problems are many and thorny.”

No agreement is expected on ongoing disagreements over how each country has handled its trade commitments. Since Mr. Biden took office, the details of this Trump-era revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, have been disputed. The agreement aimed to update Mexican labor laws, encourage auto production in North America, and open up Canadian markets to American dairy farmers.

In recent weeks, the Canadian government has argued that the tax credit offered to American consumers who buy electric vehicles made in the United States violates the agreement. Speaking to reporters at a press conference Monday, Trudeau said the Biden administration’s US buying ethic was “counterproductive” to promoting trade between the two countries.

“This is an issue that I have already highlighted very often with President Biden and it will certainly be part of the important conversations we will have later this week,” Trudeau said.

For its part, the Biden administration accused the Canadian government of practices that favor Canadian dairy farmers and raised concerns that Mexico’s energy policies give an unfair advantage to state-owned enterprises. Administration officials said Wednesday that Biden plans to reaffirm USMCA provisions in support of labor rights protection, a reference to a dispute settled against Mexico earlier this year.

Authorities expect agreements to be reached on sharing vaccines. The leaders of Canada and Mexico will agree to share “millions” of doses with the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, an official said. The three countries will sign a pact to reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas industries by up to 75% by 2030, and form a task force to address supply chain issues.

The most delicate discussions will come with Mr. López Obrador. Mexico, long neglected in relations with its neighbors, has gained considerable leverage in a year that has seen a wave of pandemic-fueled migration from Latin America. Mr Biden has had to rely increasingly on Mexico to prevent the flow of people from overwhelming the southwest border and to house tens of thousands of migrants who might otherwise be heading north.

For Biden officials, the importance of maintaining strict Mexican enforcement was made clear in September, when thousands of Haitians crossed the border into Texas.

“The balance of power between the Mexican government and the US government has changed due to the circumstances,” said Duncan Wood, vice president of strategy at the Wilson Center. Mexican officials, said Wood, “know they can harm the Biden administration, and they know the Biden administration knows it.”

Mr. Biden’s dependence on Mexico put the fate of a key part of his national agenda in the hands of Mr. López Obrador, who lashed out at the United States and pursued policies going against American interests.

López Obrador’s government has sought to jail university professors, slash funding for civic organizations, attack journalists by name at national press conferences, and advocate for constitutional reform that would ensure the domination of the giant of state electricity in the Mexican energy market.

“They see Mexico as being of crucial importance for a number of their overarching goals, the most important of which is of course immigration,” said Roberta S. Jacobson, who previously served as Ambassador to Mexico and spent four months as Mr Biden’s border coordinator. . “But I think they also see Mexico as an extremely complicated partner at best and an unreliable partner at worst on a number of things that interest them.”

While the Mexican leader has praised President Donald J. Trump for not interfering in Mexican affairs, he has taken a more openly confrontational stance towards US politics since Mr. Biden took office.

Again this week, Mr. López Obrador called the US embargo on Cuba “vile” and attacked the Biden administration for helping fund Mexican media groups he described as “opposition publications” . (The president has previously said that US funding of Mexican civil society amounts to “promoting a coup mentality.”)

Vice President Kamala Harris met Mr. López Obrador during his trip to Mexico over the summer and has since been seen as an internal guardian of that relationship. Mr. López Obrador will meet with her on Thursday morning before having a bilateral meeting with Mr. Biden.

Ken Salazar, Ambassador to Mexico, publicly expressed “Serious concerns” about energy reform aimed at strengthening the state-controlled power company over private companies. But the administration has remained largely silent on Mr. López Obrador’s provocations, and Mr. Salazar has avoided offering an assessment of the Mexican president’s treatment of civil society and the media in an interview with The Times. in September.

“Freedom of the press is highly valued by President Biden,” said Mr. Salazar. “I’m sure we’ll have conversations on some of these issues.”

Mr. López Obrador, for his part, took the opportunity to confidently pursue his own agenda, especially on security issues.

For months, the Mexican government delayed issuing visas to several Drug Enforcement Administration officers who were awaiting permission to work in the country, officials from both countries said.

The delay was in part a response to the arrest of the former Mexican defense minister at a Los Angeles airport for drug trafficking at the end of Mr. Trump’s tenure last year, officials said, a decision that aroused outrage at the highest level of the Mexican government.

During discussions on security cooperation after Mr. Biden took office, Mexico asked the United States to allow Mexican security agents to enter the country to work with the forces of the United States. local order on efforts to combat US arms trafficking south of the border.

The Biden administration accepted the offer, and in the coming weeks officials expect DEA agents to be allowed into Mexico and Mexican officials to travel to the United States.

Roberto Velasco, director general of Mexico’s foreign ministry for North America, said in an interview that the move was part of Mr. López Obrador’s emphasis on “a vision for security cooperation that was reciprocal and took into account the priorities of both countries ”.

Nathalie Kitreff reported from Mexico City. Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed from Washington.



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Newsrust - US Top News: At summit, US, Canada and Mexico to address migration issue
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