US needs migrant labour, Mexican president to tell Biden

03 Mars, 2021, 08:38 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

WASHINGTON, March 2 ― The Biden administration yesterday downplayed the prospect of sharing coronavirus vaccines with Mexico, saying it is focused first on getting its own population protected against a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.

On Friday White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the meeting would touch on cooperation on migration, joint development efforts in impoverished southern Mexico and Central America, Covid-19 recovery and economic cooperation.

"The US and Mexico are stronger when we stand together", Biden said at the beginning of their teleconference.

Lopez Obrador, a leftist, was also asked whether the two would discuss a contentious electricity bill he has championed which strengthens the position of the state-run electricity utility, the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE).

Their meeting comes as reports say the United States faces a new surge of undocumented migrants attempting to enter the country from its southern neighbor, as Biden eases the tough anti-immigration regime of predecessor Donald Trump.

That's due in part to weakening cooperation from Mexico, which under the last administration cooperated on taking back people the USA expelled under coronavirus orders, or pushed back across the border under the Migrant Protection Protocols.

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Mexico has been frustrated by bottlenecks in vaccine supply and raised concerns that wealthy countries are hoarding them.

Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Saturday that in a virtual meeting Monday with President Joe Biden he will emphasize how important migrant labour is to the United States economy.

"We want a response to a petition we have already made, and if President Biden considers it he can give us a response on vaccines during the conversation", Lopez Obrador said at his daily press conference. "We must be respectful".

Biden noted that while the US and Mexico haven't always been "perfect neighbors", both countries are safer when there's a collaborative relationship, particularly where the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned.

Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, also said he will push to include Mexican professionals in a guest-worker program he plans to propose to Biden.

The president has cast the legislation as a matter of national sovereignty, arguing that past governments skewed the electricity market in favor of private operators.

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