Hamilton Journal News

Biden, Mexican president meet amid migration issues

- By Josh Boak, Elliot Spagat and Mark Stevenson

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden met virtually Monday with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador — a chance for the pair to talk more fully about migration, confrontin­g the coronaviru­s and cooperatin­g on economic and national security issues.

“This is what I know, the United States and Mexico are stronger when we stand together,” Biden told López Obrador at the outset of the meeting, alluding to past difference­s between the two countries. “We’re safer when we work together. Whether it’s addressing the challenges of our shared border, or getting this pandemic under control.”

López Obrador had said he intends during the meeting to propose to Biden a new immigrant labor program that could bring 600,000 to 800,000 Mexican and Central American immigrants a year to work legally in the United States.

A senior Biden administra­tion official declined to say whether Biden would back or oppose the proposal, saying only that both countries agree on the need to expand legal pathways for migration. The official insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversati­ons. Asked about the López Obrador’s proposal. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that reinstitut­ing the Bracero program would require action by Congress.

The original “Bracero” program allowed Mexicans to work temporaril­y in the United States to fill labor shortages during World War II and for a couple of decades after the war. López Obrador said the U.S. economy needs

Mexican workers because of “their strength, their youth.”

On Monday, López Obrador said his new proposal would be a program not only for agricultur­e workers but for other sectors and profession­als.

The White House also signaled that Biden was not willing to budge on another López Obrador request — to send U.S. manufactur­ed coronaviru­s vaccines to his country. Psaki said Biden would not agree to the move, saying the president was first focused on getting Americans vaccinated. A similar posture toward Canada has also proved to be a wrinkle in that relationsh­ip.

The Biden official said the meeting will help Biden begin to institutio­nalize the relationsh­ip with Mexico, rather than let it be determined by tweets — a preferred form of diplomacy by his predecesso­r, Donald Trump.

 ?? RYAN C. HEMENS / LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER ?? Catherine Castle stands on the porch of her home in downtown Paintsvill­e, Ky., as floodwater­s approach on Monday. Heavy thundersto­rms pounded parts of Appalachia, leading to multiple water rescues.
RYAN C. HEMENS / LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER Catherine Castle stands on the porch of her home in downtown Paintsvill­e, Ky., as floodwater­s approach on Monday. Heavy thundersto­rms pounded parts of Appalachia, leading to multiple water rescues.

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