Harris, who will be leading the Biden administration’s efforts to stem migration at the southern border, said it’s in the mutual interest of both the United States and Mexico “to provide immediate relief to the Northern Triangle” and address “root causes” of migration.
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador form what’s known as the Northern Triangle in Central America. The rise in apprehensions at the border, which includes many migrants from those nations, has posed one of the greatest issues presently for the Biden administration.
In her opening statement, Harris said most people fleeing the region “don’t want to leave home and when they do it is often because they are fleeing some harm or they are forced to leave because they have no opportunity.”
Harris, who plans to visit Mexico and Guatemala June 7-8 in her first trip abroad as vice president, said the United States and Mexico share the belief that “we can make progress and we can create and build a sense of hope for the people of the Northern Triangle for the future.”
“The governments [also] discussed their desire to advance a bilateral effort against migrant smuggling and human trafficking that will bring together law enforcement from both nations to dismantle criminal networks,” the White House said in a statement.
“As part of this effort, the United States and Mexico will share information and expertise to jointly secure our borders and bolster the protection of human rights.”
López Obrador said in his opening statement that “we need to understand one another and avoid fighting.” He also cited a specific proposal that he said will be “convenient for us,” but didn’t elaborate.
After opening statements, the two leaders retreated into a closed-door meeting.
López Obrador has deployed the Mexican army to the southern border in a bid to stop refugees from Central America crossing into the United States.
The Mexican president drew laughter during Friday’s meeting when he spoke of a time when relations between the United States and Mexico were “not completely positive.” Quoting former Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, he said, “For Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.”
“However … because our relations are so much better, we can say: ‘Blessed Mexico, so close to God and not so far from the United States,'” he added.