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Harris to speak with Mexican president about tree-planting initiative, poverty, migration

Harris to speak with Mexican president about tree-planting initiative, poverty, migration
© Greg Nash

Vice President Harris will speak with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on May 7 about a tree-planting initiative, poverty and immigration.

Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson Symone SandersSymone SandersHarris discusses voting rights with advocates in South Carolina White House 'looking into' woman claiming to be reporter at Harris press conference Harris's plane forced to return to Andrews after 'technical issue' MORE said in a statement on Saturday that the virtual meeting will “deepen the partnership between our countries to achieve the common goals of prosperity, good governance, and addressing the root causes of migration.”

The news comes as the Biden administration faces a surge of migrants — in particular unaccompanied minors — to the U.S.-Mexico border. President BidenJoe BidenFormer Rep. Rohrabacher says he took part in Jan. 6 march to Capitol but did not storm building Saudis picked up drugs in Cairo used to kill Khashoggi: report Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting MORE has put Harris in charge of the issue, leading the efforts to stem the flow of migrants to the area. 

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The migrants come up through the "Northern Triangle" countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and through Mexico to arrive at the U.S. border. 

López Obrador will be joined by Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard Casubon and Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier Carrillo, Sanders said.

The meeting follows a phone call with López Obrador earlier in April, where the two agreed to “work together to address the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – including poverty, violence, and lack of economic opportunity."

Ebrard also confirmed the meeting on Twitter, saying the two would discuss expanding the tree-planting program, called “Sembrando Vida” to Central America as a way to deal with forced migration. He also said the meeting will discuss cooperation on the coronavirus pandemic.

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According to The Associated Press, the plan aims to pay farmers to plant 1 billion fruits and timer trees to Mexico. It has already been extended to El Salvador, and López Obrador is trying expand it to Honduras. 

Reuters reported last week that López Obrador thinks the program could create 1.3 million jobs in southern Mexico and in the Central American countries that would keep people from forced migration. 

In March alone, border patrol agents have encountered over 170,000 migrants at the border.

Republicans have blasted Biden for the surge, saying his walking back of former President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE’s hard-line immigration policies contributed to the surge.

Harris has already held a virtual roundtable with experts on the Northern Triangle and is expected to have a virtual meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

The vice president is also expected to travel to the Northern Triangle in June.