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Facing Loss of Funds for I.C.E., Biden Administration Turns to Mexico for Aid

Vice President Kamala Harris welcomes Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, at the vice president's official residence in Washington, Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Vice President Kamala Harris welcomes Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, at the vice president’s official residence in Washington, Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

As the Biden administration continues to face problems at the southern border, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has agreed to contribute $1.5 billion dollars over the next several years to improve “smart” border technology after meeting with President Joe Biden Tuesday. This latest development comes as a report broke Thursday that the United States’ Immigration Customs Enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S) is running out of funds and resources to control the influx of immigrants crossing the southern border for the current fiscal year.

According to reports, White House officials view the latest action from President Obrador as a significant cooperation step between the U.S. and Mexico over border security, claiming that the Biden administration is succeeding where the Trump administration could not. The series of agreements between the two countries came as each leader called for concrete moves like expanding the number of work visas issued by the U.S., generating bilateral working organizations on labor migration pathways, worker protections, and welcoming more refugees. The new agreement also supports joint patrols for countries like Mexico and Guatemala to track human traffickers along their shared border.

In a joint statement, the two leaders stated that the border between the U.S. and Mexico is only resilient, efficient, and safe if both sides are committed to completing this multi-year joint operation around border infrastructure modernization efforts. For his part, President Obrador stated that both countries should help each other by handling border challenges, increasing economic inflation, and reducing trade costs. In his comments, President Biden explained that the U.S. sees Mexico as an equal partner and called for more productive initiatives to address the legal and illegal migration, drug trafficking, and rising economic inflation.

The two administrations had tense relations with each another, given that President Obrador declined Biden’s invitation to the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles after being unable to urge the U.S. to include anti-American regimes like Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. The Mexican leader also disapproved of America’s support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, arguing that funds should have gone to aid Central America.

Members of Congress from both political parties have called on the Biden administration to demand more resources to solve the ongoing southern border crisis, calling D.H.S Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and members of border patrol to testify and explain the administration’s actions. While the administration has defended its conduct on the southern border, citing several instances of stopping fentanyl smuggling, Republicans in the House and Senate have pointed out the numerous examples of border agents being overwhelmed by the number of migrants illegally crossing.

Since the Biden administration came into office, the issue of illegal immigration has constantly been a problem for the President and his officials. Under the Trump administration, President Trump and his D.H.S. officials implemented policies to deter migrants from illegally crossing the border and allocated funds for border wall construction and technological upgrades to current border patrol systems. Under the Biden administration, I.C.E. has seen a dramatic uptick in migrants crossing the Southern border, with many agents blaming the massive influx on the President’s decision to reverse immigrant policies under the Trump administration.

Under Biden, the D.H.S. has ordered a review of asylum processing at the U.S.-Mexico border and immigration system, further undoing many of his former predecessor’s policies. With the President’s approval numbers in record low numbers and Republicans organizing ahead with the 2022 Midterm elections, the White House hopes the new agreement with Mexico will politically help him and his party in the November elections.

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