Biden flies into Lopez Obrador’s new airport for summit

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — One of the most important diplomatic decisions by President Joe Biden at this week’s rally of North American leaders may have been the choice of an airport.

Biden arrived in Mexico City Sunday night via Mexico’s newest hub, Felipe Angeles International Airport. Felipe Angeles International Airport is a project highly praised by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The hub was named with much fanfare last year, but he’s over an hour’s drive north of the city center, has few flights and, until recently, had no consistent drinking water.

The relationship between Biden and Lopez Obrador is transactional at best, lacking the warmth and camaraderie Biden has with other world leaders. bottom.

With Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arriving on Monday, the trio will spend the next two days discussing climate change, manufacturing, trade, the economy and the potential global influence of a more cooperative North America.

Biden tweeted on Sunday after arriving, saying, “This rally will deepen our collaboration and advance our shared priorities for North America.

Immigration will also be discussed, but ahead of the summit, Biden announced drastic changes to US-Mexico border policy, with Mexico’s approval. This will cause the US to send her 30,000 immigrants back across the border from her four other countries each month. The US will host 30,000 people each month from her four countries of Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela for her two years and provide them with the ability to work legally.

On Sunday, Biden spent about four hours in El Paso, Texas. This is his first border visit as president and the longest time spent along the U.S.-Mexico border. The day is highly regulated and designed to showcase smooth operations to process legally entering immigrants, remove smuggled goods, and humanely treat those who enter illegally. seemed to be .

But it has done little to quell criticism from both sides, including immigration advocates who accuse the Democratic president of establishing a cruel policy that bears no resemblance to that of his hardline predecessor, Republican Donald Trump. rice field.

Mr. Biden did not encounter immigrants except when his motorcade ran along the border, with about a dozen people lined up on Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez side. It did not include time at Border Patrol stations where migrants were arrested and held before being released.

Elsewhere in El Paso, which Mr. Biden did not visit, hundreds of migrants gathered outside the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where they slept outdoors and received three meals a day from faith groups and other humanitarian aid groups. .

The immigrant group had several pregnant women, including eight-month-old 26-year-old Carla Sainz. She was traveling with a small group that included her two-year-old son, Joshua. Sainz left her three other children with her mother in Venezuela.

“I would like to ask President Biden to help me with a permit or something so we can continue to work,” she said.

Noengriz García, also eight months pregnant, traveled from the small Venezuelan state of Portugal with her husband, teenage son and small dog to run a food stall.

“We don’t want to be given money or a house,” said Garcia, 39.

Asked what he learned from seeing the border firsthand and talking to the officers who work along it, Biden said, “They need a lot of resources. I plan to put it in.”

The number of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has increased dramatically in Mr. Biden’s first two years in office. His one-year stoppages through September 30 put him over 2.38 million, the first time he topped 2 million. The administration has been reluctant to take steps similar to the Trump administration and has struggled to crack down on intersections.

From Texas, Biden headed south to Mexico City. Lopez Obrador officially welcomes Biden to the Palacio Nacional on Monday, the first time Mexico has had a U.S. president since 2014. The two plan to meet before Trudeau joins them for dinner. Biden and Trudeau will meet on Tuesday, after which the three will meet to discuss.

For the U.S., a major talking point is building on Biden’s impetus on immigration, drug trafficking, and electric cars and manufacturing. Mexico is focused on North American economic integration, helping the poor in the Americas and supporting regional relations that put all governments on equal footing. Canada is looking to expand its green initiatives.

Three countries are working together, but not all is rosy. Canadian and Mexican leaders have expressed concern over Biden’s “Buy American” plan. Mr. Biden’s push for electric vehicles is a boon for both countries thanks to tax credits on North American batteries, but there are concerns that U.S. allies will be left behind.

Meanwhile, the United States and Canada have accused Lopez Obrador of trying to favor Mexico’s state-owned power company over power plants built by foreigners and private investors.

Biden’s relationship with Trudeau is good, but after holding a rally in Los Angeles last fall, he has said for months that Biden plans to head north, despite White House officials saying he will be heading north. He has not yet reached Canada during his presidency.

Lopez Obrador skipped that rally because Biden didn’t invite authoritarian regimes in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. He also makes no secret of his admiration for Trump. And he was one of only three world leaders who didn’t recognize Biden’s election victory until after a formal Electoral College vote and the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. But despite this, they recognize the importance of each other.

Of Biden and Lopez Obrador, “They are both consummate politicians,” said Andrew Selley, director of the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration think tank in Washington. What they need. It’s very transactional. We don’t have a big vision of the relationship right now.

For Biden, that meant flying to a new airport. It’s one of four key projects that Lopez Obrador is racing to finish before his term ends next year, as Mexico does not allow him re-election. Other projects are an oil refinery, a tourist train on the Yucatan Peninsula, and a train linking Gulf and Pacific ports.

The airport is expected to cost $4.1 billion and was built after Lopez Obrador canceled a partially built airport created by its predecessor. Felipe in 2020 During the construction of his Angeles, hundreds of mammoth skeletons were discovered.


Associated Press writer Andres Leighton in El Paso, Texas. Anita Snow of Phoenix. Morgan Lee of Santa Fe, New Mexico. and Josh Boak of Washington contributed to this report.


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