Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador lauded United States President Joe Biden for not building additional sections of the border wall along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday.
“We have said this and I repeat it today — I insist on this: You, President Biden, you are the first president of the United States in a very long time that has not built not even one meter of wall,” Lopez Obrador said.
“And that — we thank you for that, sir, although some might not like it — although the conservatives don’t like it,” he added.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to Biden: “President Biden, you are the first president of the United States in a very long time that has not built, not even one meter of wall, and that, we thank you for that, sir.” pic.twitter.com/kaHbBFwn4F
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Lopez Obrador made his comments at a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Biden at the National Palace in Mexico City.
The three leaders had gathered in the Mexican capital for the 2023 North American Leaders’ Summit — colloquially called the “Three Amigos” Summit.
After coming into power, Biden rescinded former President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration that permitted Trump to obtain funds for the border wall intended to stem illegal immigration and smuggling of contraband into the U.S.
Since then, Biden nixed multiple border wall construction contracts and authorized the return of property appropriated for the wall to citizens who had been fighting the land seizures in court, CNN reported.
Democrats in Congress and the Biden administration considered the wall ineffective in achieving its intended goals, slamming it as xenophobic, Fox News reported.
However, with the border crisis that ensued after the Biden administration took over, the Biden administration began quietly closing gaps in the wall in Arizona, according to CNN.
According to Fox News, critics believe Biden’s ending of the wall’s construction after taking office contributed to the border crisis.
Immigration was one of the key issues dominating the agenda at the summit.
“We have a big agenda that ranges from the climate crisis to economic development and other issues. But one important part of that agenda is strengthening our border between our nations,” Biden said during a Thursday address at the White House, according to Politico.
Ahead of the meeting, Biden announced that Mexico had agreed to accept Cuban, Haitian, and Nicaraguan migrants who had illegally entered the U.S. and have been expelled from the U.S. as part of the Title 42 health order, Fox News reported.
According to the outlet, Biden made his first visit to the border since becoming president on Sunday.
During the Tuesday news conference, Lopez Obrador also said he asked Biden to regularize the status of illegal immigrants from Mexico in the U.S.
“I’ve asked President Biden to insist before the U.S. Congress to regularize the migration situations of millions of Mexicans who have been in the states working, living in the United States, and contributing to the development of that great nation, which is the United States of America,” he said.
Biden is the first U.S. president to visit Mexico since Barack Obama’s 2014 visit to the country, according to Politico.
According to the outlet, usually, U.S. presidents would choose Mexico or Canada as the destination of their first overseas trip. However, this tradition was reportedly broken under Trump, who decided to visit Saudi Arabia instead.
“Better US-Mexico cooperation is essential to better handle the massive migration flows arriving at the U.S. border going forward,” said Earl Anthony Wayne, the public policy fellow at the Wilson Centre.
“U.S. officials are praising current cooperation being provided by Mexico. However, much additional partnership from countries across the region is essential to reducing the numbers of migrants on the move in the Western Hemisphere.”
“Such collaboration includes creating more legal migration pathways as an alternative to irregular migration, providing more humanitarian care for migrants, and dealing with root causes pushing so many to leave their homes,” Wayne added.
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