U.S. News New immigration, trade deals expected from Joe Biden's meeting...

New immigration, trade deals expected from Joe Biden’s meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

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July 12 (BP) — President Joe Biden will welcome Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to the White House on Tuesday and the two are expected to focus on issues involving trade and immigration.

The meeting is also intended to underscore the strength of U.S.-Mexico relations, but comes at a time of some tensions in the relationship after Obrador declined an invitation from Biden to attend the Summit of the Americas in California last month.

The White House said the two will “discuss their visions for North America and their efforts to address global challenges such as food security, continued cooperation on migration, and joint development efforts.”

Biden and Lopez Obrador will meet in the Oval Office late Tuesday morning, but will not participate in a joint news conference — as many world leaders often do when they visit the White House. The lack of such a news conference might be a reflection of the recent U.S.-Mexico tensions.

The two are expected to work toward a bilateral working group to address labor migration pathways and protections for migrant workers. Administration officials said the group would look for ways to “expand our diplomatic coordination on migration issues throughout the region,” according to CNN.

Last month, Biden hosted the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles — a diplomatic gathering of North, Central and South American leaders. But the event was significant for a number of leaders who did not attend, either because they were not invited or opted not to travel to California.

As president of Mexico, Lopez Obrador was invited, but declined to attend unless Biden also extended invitations to the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Those leaders were not invited because, the White House said, they head non-democratic regimes.

Vehicles queue at the U.S.-Mexico border separating Tijuana, Mexico, and California on March 21, 2021. File Photo by Ariana Drehsler/BP

“I am not going to the summit because not all the countries of the Americas are invited,” Lopez Obrador said before the summit. “I believe in the need to change the policy that has been imposed for centuries — exclusions, wanting to dominate for no reason, not respecting the sovereignty of countries.

“I am very sorry not to be able to meet with President Biden because I consider him a good man, but he is under strong pressure from Republicans, extremists and some leaders of the Cuban community in the United States, who have a lot of influence.”

Lopez Obrador has also been critical of Biden for providing billions in aid to Ukraine to fight invading Russian forces while ignoring the needs of some Central American nations.

Administration officials told reporters on Monday that the meeting is expected to produce new agreements, including one to expand visa travel programs. It was unclear, however, which programs would be expanded and how many more visas might be issued under the new rules.

Late last month, more than 50 migrants died in Texas after illegally crossing the border in a tractor-trailer. Their bodies were found later near San Antonio.

“I think the tragedy in San Antonio is top of mind for both the U.S. and Mexico,” an administration official said according to The Hill. “And we know many of those who perished in the incident were Mexican nationals.

“So. we are already doing a lot to expand our cooperation on addressing these human smuggling networks.”

Vice President Kamala Harris, who is leading the administration’s efforts to focus on the root causes of illegal immigration, was scheduled to meet Lopez Obrador for breakfast on Tuesday.

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