Harris Meets With Mexico’s President

While meeting with Mexico’s president, Vice President Kamala Harris discussed affordable housing, labor protections and border security.

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Kamala Harris concludes meeting with Mexico’s president, capping her high-stakes trip to the region.

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Harris Meets With Mexico’s President

Vice President Kamala Harris met with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico on Tuesday to discuss migration, human trafficking and economic cooperation.

Reporter: “Will you increase your assistance in immigration enforcement?” Translator: “We will be speaking to the vice president, and we are very pleased to have her here.” Translator: “And we will touch on that subject.” Translator: “But always addressing the fundamental root causes.”

Vice President Kamala Harris met with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico on Tuesday to discuss migration, human trafficking and economic cooperation.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

June 8, 2021, 1:07 p.m. ET

MEXICO CITY — Vice President Kamala Harris met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday, capping her first foreign trip with a discussion on economic cooperation, as well as joint efforts to combat human trafficking and manage migration to their shared border.

Mr. Lopez Obrador “and I spent a significant amount of time together one on one,” and had “very directed candid conversations as well as a very productive bilateral meeting,” Ms. Harris said afterward, noting that they discussed the pandemic, vaccines, migration and border security.

According to a statement from Symone Sanders, a top adviser and spokeswoman for Ms. Harris, the Biden administration would issue loans for affordable housing, efforts to grow cacao and coffee and infrastructure project development.

The U.S. will also invest $130 million over three years to support labor protections for Mexican workers and will also provide forensic training to Mexican officials seeking to find tens of thousands of missing people.

“The two leaders also agreed to increase cooperation to further secure our borders and ensure orderly immigration,” Ms. Sanders said.

Ms. Harris and Mr. Lopez Obrador signed an agreement in Mexico’s national palace reiterating their governments’ commitment to deter migration north by addressing its root causes: poverty, persecution and corruption in Central America.

The meeting concludes a high-stakes visit for Ms. Harris to Mexico and Guatemala, where she was on Monday. She has been tapped by President Biden to be the administration’s emissary for one of its more complex and politically volatile issues: improving conditions in Central America and deterring migration to the U.S.-Mexico border.

For weeks, Ms. Harris has faced criticism from Republicans for not visiting the United States’ southwest border, where an increasing number of lone migrant children and teenagers are arriving, and she has also tried to manage the expectations of Democrats for Mr. Biden to fulfill his campaign promise of taking a compassionate approach to asylum-seekers at the border.

The trip has shown that her approach in the short-term prioritizes a moderate approach to migration and projecting a perception that the border is under control, even if it means turning away the very asylum-seekers she has said the United States is committed to helping in the long term.

On Monday, Ms. Harris sparked criticism from immigration advocates and Democrats when she delivered a blunt message to potential migrants.

“I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come,” Ms. Harris said in Guatemala City, standing feet away from the Guatemalan president, Alejandro Giammattei.

“This is disappointing to see,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, said on Twitter. “First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival.”

The Biden administration has continued to embrace an emergency rule put in place under the presidency of Donald J. Trump after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The rule empowered border agents to rapidly turn away migrants without providing them a chance to apply for asylum, justifying the expulsions as necessary to stop the virus from spreading.

Under U.S. immigration law, migrants are entitled to ask for protection once they step on American soil. The continued use of the rule, known as Title 42, has prompted criticism from immigration lawyers, former officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the administration’s own medical consultants.

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