President Biden assured Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that he considers the country “an equal” during a virtual meeting on Monday, as his administration works to unravel some of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Biden noted that while the U.S. 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.
“In the Obama-Biden administration, we made a commitment that we look at Mexico as an equal, not as somebody who is south of our border. You are equal,” Biden said. “And what you do in Mexico and how you succeed impacts dramatically on what the rest of the hemisphere will look like.”
López Obrador thanked Biden for communicating his desire to base their relationship on respect and equality.
The Biden administration has already taken a number of steps to establish its own immigration policy, separating itself from the tough line rhetoric of the previous administration.
Biden ordered a pause on funding for the border wall, which was a priority of Donald Trump’s White House to prevent illegal immigration from Mexico.
Biden has also taken actions to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which provides protection for young undocumented immigrants, and revoked Trump’s pause on green card applicants entering the country because of the pandemic.
Further, Biden ended the previous administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which allowed immigration enforcement officials to send non-Mexican asylum seekers to Mexico as they awaited their cases to be arbitrated in the U.S. court system.
Critics of Biden’s immigration plans are worried they could lead to a surge in illegal border crossings. Arrests and detentions at the U.S. Mexico-border rose to nearly 78,000 in January, as reported by The Washington Post, which was more than double the amount recorded from the year prior.
Biden’s virtual meeting with López Obrador marked his second with a foreign leader. López Obrador also received Biden’s second call to a foreign leader on his third day in the White House.