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Biden and López Obrador talked fentanyl and US-Mexico migration. They pledged solidarity

by Chloe Baker
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Bilateral Cooperation

President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador held discussions on two pressing issues during their recent meeting in San Francisco. Firstly, they pledged to collaborate closely in addressing the issue of illicit fentanyl trafficking into the United States and managing the increasing number of migrants traveling northward to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Biden emphasized the importance of Mexico and the United States working together, stating that there are no limits to what they can achieve when they stand side by side. This commitment comes against a backdrop of occasional tension in their relationship, including Biden’s criticism of Mexico regarding fentanyl production and the safety of journalists. López Obrador, on the other hand, has not hesitated to express his own concerns, as evidenced by his decision to skip a previous summit and initially considering skipping this year’s APEC conference.

However, during their recent meeting, both leaders appeared amicable and exchanged compliments before the press. Biden praised López Obrador as an excellent partner, while the Mexican leader referred to Biden as a good man and an extraordinary president.

Their discussions took place on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference, where Biden engaged in face-to-face meetings with leaders from various countries, including China’s President Xi Jinping, as part of efforts to assert that the U.S. and China are competitors rather than zero-sum rivals.

The two presidents delved into the intertwined issues of fentanyl trafficking and immigration. The illicit trafficking of fentanyl, a powerful and deadly opioid, is a shared concern, with Mexico and China serving as primary sources of synthetic fentanyl trafficked into the U.S. The precursors for this drug mostly originate in China, while production and distribution are often facilitated by cartels operating in Mexico.

In addressing these issues, Biden mentioned his conversation with Xi Jinping regarding fentanyl and emphasized the need to combat organized crime collaboratively. Fentanyl is currently the deadliest drug in the United States, contributing to over 100,000 drug overdose-related deaths annually, a stark increase from previous decades.

Furthermore, the immigration challenges facing the U.S. are becoming increasingly complex and contentious. State and local Democratic leaders have requested federal assistance to support migrant families living in substandard conditions, while Republican critics argue that Biden’s border policies are too lenient. Congress has not passed comprehensive immigration reform in many years, adding to the complexity of the situation.

Biden sought $14 billion in border security funding from Congress, but the recent temporary spending bill did not include provisions for border security, Ukraine aid, or support for Israel. Arrests for illegal border crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border have risen by 21% in September, underscoring the urgency of addressing the issue.

Mexico’s cooperation is crucial for the U.S. to effectively manage the southern border, especially as migrants from distant nations, such as Haiti, traverse Mexico on their way to the U.S. López Obrador expressed support for the administration’s approach of cracking down on illegal crossings while simultaneously opening legal pathways for immigration, considering it a humane response to the migration phenomenon.

Earlier this year, Mexico agreed to continue accepting migrants from countries like Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, and Nicaragua who are denied entry at the U.S. border. Additionally, up to 100,000 individuals from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, with family ties in the U.S., are eligible to live and work in the United States.

While regional hubs for asylum claims are being established in Guatemala and Colombia to discourage overland travel, Mexico has not agreed to host such a facility. López Obrador also intended to raise the issue of Cuba during his meeting with Biden, advocating for a resumption of dialogue with the island nation and an end to U.S. sanctions.

In summary, the meeting between Presidents Biden and López Obrador addressed critical challenges related to fentanyl trafficking and immigration, highlighting the need for collaboration between the two nations to find effective solutions to these complex issues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Bilateral Cooperation

What were the main topics discussed during the meeting between President Biden and President López Obrador?

President Biden and President López Obrador discussed two primary topics during their meeting: illicit fentanyl trafficking into the U.S. and the growing number of migrants traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Why is the issue of fentanyl trafficking significant in this context?

Fentanyl trafficking is significant because it is a deadly opioid responsible for a substantial number of overdose deaths in the U.S. China and Mexico are key sources of synthetic fentanyl trafficked into the U.S., and addressing this issue is crucial to combatting drug-related problems.

What are the key challenges related to immigration discussed in the text?

The text highlights several immigration challenges, including the rising number of illegal border crossings, the need for comprehensive immigration reform, and the increasing complexity of managing migrant families. These challenges have led to calls for federal assistance and criticisms of border policies.

How is Mexico’s cooperation important in addressing the migration issue?

Mexico’s cooperation is vital because it plays a significant role in the transit of migrants heading to the U.S. The Mexican government’s support is crucial in managing and addressing the migration phenomenon, including providing assistance to migrants from various countries.

What other topics were discussed at the APEC conference mentioned in the text?

While the primary focus of the meeting between the two presidents was on fentanyl trafficking and immigration, the text briefly mentions that President Biden had a series of face-to-face meetings with other leaders during the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference, where topics such as U.S.-China competition were discussed.

What did President López Obrador plan to raise with President Biden regarding Cuba?

President López Obrador intended to raise the issue of Cuba during his meeting with President Biden, advocating for a resumption of dialogue with Cuba and calling for an end to U.S. sanctions against the island nation.

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