While they have held several virtual meetings and senior US officials have been to Mexico recently, this first face-to-face meeting will give Biden a chance to rethink disastrous immigration policy. mine. Since his first day in power, it has dominated his approach to Mexico.
Although discussions on other issues – trade, investment, drugs, security – were at a high level, the migration pushed everything else to a dead end. The same thing has happened under the Trump administration, more or less: With the exception of the new trade agreement, labeled USMCA, former President Donald Trump has put immigration at the top of his list, when it comes to importance Mexican-American system, excluded of almost everything else.
As a result, Biden was unwilling to call López Obrador publicly about domestic problems in Mexico, but – because of the increasingly strained relationship between the two countries – instead, intermestic.
As long as Mexico does Washington’s bidding on migration, preventing Central and South Americans from accessing America’s southern border, Biden will look the other way on other issues. These include Mexico’s mishandling of its economy; the absence of the rule of law; corruption; violation or threat of USMCA provisions on energy, investment, and agriculture; drug enforcement; regional issues such as elections in Nicaragua and protests in Cuba; and the consolidation of democracy and human rights in Mexico.
Paradoxically, AMLO’s policies only exacerbated Biden’s predicament: By mismanaging his country, the President of Mexico created a new impetus for Mexicans to immigrate to the United States.
Apprehension about Mexicans has been growing for three years now, and one of the reasons is López Obrador. AMLO is driving the Mexican economy to the ground, through the misperception of its reluctance to implement any fiscal stimulus during the pandemic (which he has also committed), the wrong design of insulation and without any tax reform. He is creating even more impetus for Mexicans to emigrate, especially at a time of growing labor scarcity in the United States. Both push and pull factors are driving many Mexicans north.
This is a great opportunity for both leaders to reach a far-reaching agreement on immigration. López Obrador rightly asserted that Washington should significantly increase the number of temporary work visas it offers. Economic stagnation in Mexico, the US economy is facing labor shortages in practically every industry, and the impending infrastructure construction boom is clearly evidence of the increase there. These will automatically relieve the pressure of unauthorized migrants entering the United States, essentially allowing many of them to enter through doors that are completely legal.
But beyond this short-term remedy (which could affect hundreds of thousands of migrants), Biden should design a different approach toward Mexico.
First, it shouldn’t be based almost exclusively on immigration, as it could be important for both countries. Second, it should explicitly include those matters that are important to the United States, but which López Obrador erroneously view as strictly Mexican internal affairs. This means democracy, human rights, macroeconomic policy, the rule of law, energy reform and regional issues like the current crises in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba.
It also means gaining some understanding with Mexico on drug and violence policy, in addition to the bromides on reducing homicides in Mexico and increasing cooperation. It basically implies doing all of this more openly than it has so far.
Washington should take a two-way approach towards Mexico, no different from the one it has taken for China and Russia. For these two countries – China is more important to Washington than Mexico, Russia less so – should participate, negotiate and reach agreements where possible, but speak out on issues that the two countries do not. only disagree, but increasingly have views. the odds. Biden has not hesitated to publicly criticize the human rights abuses of governments in Beijing and Moscow, and cooperate with them on crucial issues such as climate change.
Nothing could hurt long-term US interests in Mexico more than instability; every administration in Mexico since Woodrow Wilson has known this. The country is at least as politically sensitive to the United States as Russia and China. If Biden doubts this, he should look at his poll numbers on immigration and border handling.