The United States plans to reverse the Trump administration’s “draconian” immigration approach while working on policies addressing the causes of migration, President Joe Biden told his Mexican counterpart, the White House said on Saturday. In a Friday call with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Biden outlined his plan to create new legal pathways for immigration and improve the process for people requesting asylum, according to an account of the call released by the White House.
Priorities include “reversing the previous administration’s draconian immigration policies,” the White House said. The two leaders agreed to work together towards reducing “irregular migration,” the White House release said.
Mexico has a major role to play in Biden’s plans for immigration reform. Earlier this month, Mexico helped coordinate efforts in Central America to contain a large caravan of migrants heading for the United States. Mexico’s Foreign Ministry also said it had begun talks with Washington about a COVID-19-related order signed by Biden to establish firmer health protocols for people entering US territory.
The call was “pleasant and respectful,” Lopez Obrador said in a brief Twitter post. “Everything indicates relations will be good and for the benefit of our people and nations,” Lopez Obrador said.
Nevertheless, Biden’s inauguration comes at a time of simmering tension over a now-dropped US investigation into former Mexican defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos.
Cracking down on both legal and illegal immigration was a core focus of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. Biden, meanwhile, has made an early push for a bill that would open a path for citizenship for the roughly 11 million people living in the United States illegally, though even his allies in Congress acknowledge that may be “a Herculean task.”