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Politics Harris turns focus to Mexico on trip to address migration

08:40  08 june  2021
08:40  08 june  2021 Source:   msn.com

What will VP Harris seek -- and find -- in Mexico?

  What will VP Harris seek -- and find -- in Mexico? As the US vice president visits America's southern neighbor, questions linger about her agenda and how she'll navigate a tricky relationship with Mexico's controversial President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, writes Jorge G. Castañeda.First, there is the question of timing, as Harris seems to have chosen an odd moment to visit America's southern neighbor.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris is closing out her first foreign trip Tuesday with a visit to Mexico and a meeting with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a key but complicated ally in the Biden administration’s efforts to curb the spike in migration at the U.S. border.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, pose for an official photograph, Monday, June 7, 2021, at the National Palace in Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) © Provided by Associated Press Vice President Kamala Harris and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, pose for an official photograph, Monday, June 7, 2021, at the National Palace in Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Vice President Kamala Harris, left, meets with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Monday, June 7, 2021, at the National Palace in Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) © Provided by Associated Press Vice President Kamala Harris, left, meets with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Monday, June 7, 2021, at the National Palace in Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

While Lopez Obrador committed in a previous virtual meeting with Harris that the U.S. can “count on us” to help address the issue of irregular migration, the Mexican president has in the past blamed President Joe Biden for the increase in migration at the border. And he was chummy with his predecessor, President Donald Trump, despite Trump’s hardline polcies towards migrants.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden haven’t yet visited the US-Mexico border. Texas officials are mixed on whether they need to

  Kamala Harris and Joe Biden haven’t yet visited the US-Mexico border. Texas officials are mixed on whether they need to Vice President Kamala Harris visits Guatemala and Mexico this week, but she and President Joe Biden haven't visited the U.S.-Mexico border this year.But for months, Harris' presence has been requested someplace else: The U.S. southern border. Mostly Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have called on Harris and President Joe Biden to visit areas along the U.S.-Mexico border, where they say a dramatic increase of migrants has developed into a crisis. Members of the House and Senate have flown into border towns, toured intake facilities and taken boat rides on the Rio Grande River. And their message to Harris and Biden has been: Come see it for yourself.

Early last month, he also accused the U.S. of violating Mexico’s sovereignty for giving money to non-governmental organizations that were critical of his government.

But Harris, in her role dealing with the root causes of increased migration from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, as well as Mexico, has sought to strengthen diplomatic relations with the Mexican president. She’s held multiple phone calls and a virtual bilateral meeting with him, and Tuesday will provide the latest indication of whether her efforts will bear fruit for either nation.

Vice President Kamala Harris, left, meets with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Monday, June 7, 2021, at the National Palace in Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) © Provided by Associated Press Vice President Kamala Harris, left, meets with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Monday, June 7, 2021, at the National Palace in Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

“We have a partnership, a longstanding partnership. Other than Canada, we are the closest neighbors to each other,” Harris told reporters Monday night. “That is the basis of the conversation I will have with him — is with that spirit, that we have to be partners.”

Harris keeps goals modest for first foreign trip

  Harris keeps goals modest for first foreign trip The vice president is focused on in-person engagement when she visits Guatemala and Mexico, her first trip abroad since being inaugurated.The goal for her two-day visit to Guatemala and Mexico isn’t to roll out a massive plan to solve the problems driving thousands to flee the region, according to administration officials, people close to the White House and experts, but simply to show that the U.S. cares and isn’t just looking for quick fixes.

The meeting follows Harris' Monday visit to Guatemala, where she met with President Alejandro Giammattei. To coincide with their meeting the Biden administration announced a number of new commitments to combat trafficking, smuggling, and corruption, as well as investments in economic development in the country. But on Tuesday, her meeting with Lopez Obrador isn’t expected to deliver as many concrete commitments.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Guatemala's Minister of Foreign Affairs Pedro Brolo wave at her arrival ceremony in Guatemala City, Sunday, June 6, 2021, at Guatemalan Air Force Central Command. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) © Provided by Associated Press Vice President Kamala Harris and Guatemala's Minister of Foreign Affairs Pedro Brolo wave at her arrival ceremony in Guatemala City, Sunday, June 6, 2021, at Guatemalan Air Force Central Command. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The two will witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding that will establish greater cooperation between the two nations on development programs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Harris aides say they’ll discuss vaccine sharing, the economic and security relationship between the two nations, and dealing with the root causes of migration from other countries in the region. Harris speaks frequently of the need to improve economic conditions for residents of the region, so they don’t feel compelled to make the trek to the U.S. border.

Harris told to 'go home' by protesters during her trip to Guatemala

  Harris told to 'go home' by protesters during her trip to Guatemala Kamala Harris was greeted with protesters demanding she 'mind her own business' when she arrived in Guatemala for her first international trip as vice president. 'Kamala go home,' one white flag with black painted letters read.

Vice President Kamala Harris is greeted as she exits Air Force Two on arrival in Guatemala City, Sunday, June 6, 2021, at Guatemalan Air Force Central Command. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) © Provided by Associated Press Vice President Kamala Harris is greeted as she exits Air Force Two on arrival in Guatemala City, Sunday, June 6, 2021, at Guatemalan Air Force Central Command. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The memorandum of understanding, according to special envoy Ricardo Zuniga, who traveled with Harris on the trip, marks a new level of cooperation, and is important because the two nations have “some of the same issues” when it comes to irregular migration.

“It’s very important to show that the United States and Mexico are collaborating and trying to improve conditions on the ground among our neighbors, because of the importance that other countries in Central America have for both of us,” he told reporters traveling with Harris.

Harris will spend the rest of the day meeting with female entrepreneurs and labor leaders in the nation.

The meeting comes just days after the country’s midterm elections, during which Lopez Obrador’s party appeared poised to maintain their majority in Mexico’s lower chamber of the congress, but fell short of a two-thirds majority as some voters boosted the struggling opposition, according to initial election results.

Harris turns focus to Mexico on trip to address migration

  Harris turns focus to Mexico on trip to address migration MEXICO CITY (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris is closing out her first foreign trip Tuesday with a visit to Mexico and a meeting with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a key but complicated ally in the Biden administration’s efforts to curb the spike in migration at the U.S. border. While Lopez Obrador committed in a previous virtual meeting with Harris that the U.S. can “count on us” to help address the issue of irregular migration, the Mexican president has in the past blamed President Joe Biden for the increase in migration at the border. And he was chummy with his predecessor, President Donald Trump, despite Trump’s hardline polcies towards migrants.

Harris is not expected to address the election results during her meeting with the president, but the bloody campaign — nearly three-dozen candidates or pre-candidates were killed as drug cartels sought to protect their interests — are certain to loom over their conversations. The government’s inability to provide security in parts of the country is of interest to the U.S. in an immigration context, both for the people who are displaced by violence and the impact it has on a severely weakened economy trying to reemerge from the pandemic.

Still, while aides say corruption was a central focus of her meeting with Giammattei, it’s unclear whether she’ll raise the issue with Lopez Obrador.

But the increase in migration at the border has become one of the major challenges confronting Biden in the early months of his first term, with Republicans seizing on an issue they see as politically advantageous as polling suggests Americans are less favorable towards Biden’s approach to immigration than they are towards his policies on the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the cadets honor guard stand close to Air Force Two after the arrival of Vice President Kamala Harris to Guatemala City, Sunday, June 6, 2021, at Guatemala's Air Force Central Command. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin): APTOPIX Guatemala Harris Latin America © Provided by Associated Press APTOPIX Guatemala Harris Latin America

They’ve tried to make Harris the face of that immigration policy, charging she and Biden are ignoring the issue because both have yet to visit the southern border. Harris told reporters Monday in Guatemala that she was focused on addressing the root causes of migration in a way that delivers “tangible” results “as opposed to grand gestures.”

Harris defends telling migrants 'do not come,' not visiting US-Mexico border

  Harris defends telling migrants 'do not come,' not visiting US-Mexico border Vice President Kamala Harris is facing backlash from conservatives for not having visited the southern border and from progressives for telling immigrants "Do not come." Harris, currently on the second half of a two-day visit to Guatemala and Mexico, has been facing backlash from conservatives for not visiting the southern border since President Joe Biden tasked her with an immigration role in March, when a record-breaking number of unaccompanied minors were crossing the southern border. Now, she is hearing new criticism from progressives for using her international spotlight in Guatemala on Monday to tell immigrants, "Do not come.

Vice President Kamala Harris, center, makes a double thumbs up sign toward members of the media after exiting Air Force Two after a technical issue required the plane to return to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Sunday, June 6, 2021, after it had already started begun flying to Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) © Provided by Associated Press Vice President Kamala Harris, center, makes a double thumbs up sign toward members of the media after exiting Air Force Two after a technical issue required the plane to return to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Sunday, June 6, 2021, after it had already started begun flying to Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Regardless of the eventual outcome of her meetings Tuesday, Mexico will remain a key partner in enforcement efforts at the border.

llegal border crossings have increased steadily since April 2020, after Trump introduced pandemic-related powers to deny migrants the opportunity to seek asylum, but further accelerated under Biden, who quickly scrapped many of Trump’s hardline border policies — most notably the “Remain in Mexico” program to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for court dates in U.S. immigration court.

Vice President Kamala Harris waves goodbye prior boarding Air Force Two at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Sunday, June 6, 2021, en route to Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) © Provided by Associated Press Vice President Kamala Harris waves goodbye prior boarding Air Force Two at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Sunday, June 6, 2021, en route to Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Shortly after taking office, Biden also exempted unaccompanied children from Title 42, named for a section of an obscure 1944 public health law that allows authorities to deny entry to prevent the spread of disease. Mexico agreed to take back its own citizens under Title 42 authorities, as well as people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

U.S. border authorities encountered nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children in March, the highest on record. Overall, it had more than 170,000 encounters on the border in April, the highest level in more than 20 years though the numbers aren’t directly comparable because getting stopped under pandemic-related authorities carries no legal consequences, resulting in many repeat crossings.

Who is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mexican president who met with Kamala Harris today?

  Who is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mexican president who met with Kamala Harris today? Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador meets with Harris Tuesday as she leads efforts to stem illegal immigration at the southern border.The Vice President met with community organizers, business owners and Presidents Alejandro Giammattei and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leaders of Guatemala and Mexico, respectively. In March, President Joe Biden tasked Harris with addressing an increase in migration  — including unaccompanied minors  — at the southern border.

Mexicans accounted for 36% of encounters with people who crossed illegally in April, the largest nationality according to the latest monthly data available from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Hondurans were second with 22% and Guatemalans were third with 17%.

In March, Lopez Obrador also blamed Biden for the increase in migration at the U.S. border, charging in a March press conference that the Biden administration had created “expectations” that “there would be a better treatment of migrants.”

Rev. Jose Percy Cervera of the Scalabrinian Missionaries and director of the Casa del Migrante shelter poses for photos in Tecun Uman, Guatemala on the border with Mexico, Sunday, June 6, 2021. Kamala Harris visiting Guatemala and Mexico on her first foreign trip as US vice president. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) © Provided by Associated Press Rev. Jose Percy Cervera of the Scalabrinian Missionaries and director of the Casa del Migrante shelter poses for photos in Tecun Uman, Guatemala on the border with Mexico, Sunday, June 6, 2021. Kamala Harris visiting Guatemala and Mexico on her first foreign trip as US vice president. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

“And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so,” he said.

Blunt message, search for answers mark VP's 1st foreign trip .
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris came to Latin America to deliver a message rather than clinch some kind of concrete deal. She bluntly told migrants not to travel to the United States. She spoke of the evils of government corruption that lead to dislocation. She urged nations to increase enforcement at their borders. She completed the journey without securing any commitments to increase immigration enforcement or expand pathways to legal migration. But she also did so without a significant mistake.

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