Joe Biden made his first contacts with foreign leaders, among them, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, just three days after the 46th U.S. President’s inauguration on January 20.
In Trudeau’s words: “Canada and the United States will continue our partnership as we fight the global Covid-19 pandemic and support a sustainable economic government that will benefit everyone.”
Contrast that with a more cautious tone regarding U.S.-Mexico relations reflected in a CNN report on President Biden’s first outreach to Mexican President Lopez Obrador.
As CNN reporter Kylie Atwood put it: “The most controversial issues complicating relations between Washington and Mexico City were not on the agenda.”
SOME RECENT BACKGROUND
Mr. Lopez Obrador, known by his initials (AMLO) had developed a close personal relationship with former President Donald Trump by supporting a Mexican crackdown against migrations northward to the United States.
The incoming Biden administration, however, slightly modified that policy by authorizing Mexican migrants with active cases to cross the border at authorized crossing points and appeal for entry at official U.S. checkpoints before granting visas, beginning February 12.
If the would-be migrants were found to be unqualified, they would be immediately denied entry and returned to Mexico. It is not known how many cases have been adjudicated in the early days since the new policy was announced.
As the recently-confirmed Biden administration Department of Human Services Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas put it: “This latest action (about in-person Mexican applications at the border) is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values.”
POSSIBLE NEXT STEPS
Mexico, with 160 million people, is classified by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as “an upper middle income” country. U.S. aid to Mexico was $66 million in FY 19.
USAID’s country development strategy supports three goals for relations with our southern neighbor:
—to help strengthen the rule of law and human rights in Mexico
—to reduce drug-related crime and violence there, and
—to promote transparency and integrity under a bilateral security cooperation agreement between the two countries.
A fourth objective, as Washington sees it, “is to support U.S. climate change initiatives”, asserted during the Trump administration, as well. A policy paper issued during the latter years of the previous administration also pledged that USAID would actively engage Mexico’s private sector to encourage innovation, “increase program impact, and enhance sustainability” across our neighbor to the south.
These goals seem well worth preserving by the Biden administration. Let’s hope that during inevitable ongoing U.S.- Mexico talks, these basic points will not only be retained, but even enhanced under the new administration in Washington.
From 2020 to 2025, USAID has announced it will deepen the U.S.-Mexico partnership by:
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More