Administration

Harris says Mexico, US can work together to improve quality of life in Northern Triangle

Vice President Harris voiced optimism on Friday that the Biden administration can work with the Mexican government to stem the flow of migration by improving the quality of life for citizens of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

During a virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Harris said, "It is in our countries' mutual interest to provide immediate relief to the Northern Triangle, and to address the root causes of migration." 

Harris argued that residents of the Central American countries "don't want to leave home," but do so "because they are fleeing some harm, or they are forced to leave because there's no opportunity in their home." 

She added that the U.S. and Mexico share "the belief that together we can make progress and we can create and build a sense of home for the people of the Northern Triangle for the future."

Harris's remarks come amid a surge in migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, and days after the Biden administration announced it would be lifting the U.S.'s refugee cap to 62,500 after previously saying it would stick to the 15,000 limit set by former President Trump. 

In April alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection took more than 172,000 migrants into custody, the highest total number in two decades. 

López Obrador during Friday's meeting noted the previous strict immigration policies under the Trump administration and the tensions that existed between the two countries over them. 

"I was saying to President Biden last time we met that when our relations were not completely positive between our countries, our President Porfirio Diaz during his administration would say: 'For Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States,'" he said, which prompted laughter from Harris and others in the room. 

"However, now we can say - 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. 

The discussion between the two leaders, who plan to meet in person in June, comes after the Mexican president criticized the Biden administration earlier Friday for U.S. financing of an anti-corruption group in the country. 

"A foreign government cannot give money to political groups in another country. Our constitution forbids it," López Obrador said at his daily press conference Friday, adding that such a move was "treason." 

López Obrador presented evidence of the U.S. financing the anti-corruption group Mexicans United Against Corruption and Impunity, which he accused of plotting a coup against his government.

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