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President Biden and López Obrador display unification.
President Biden and López Obrador display unification. Photo: Chris Kelponis-Pool/Getty Images.

Border funding, gas prices, and migration at the heart of discussion as AMLO and Biden meet

Both presidents met at the White House Tuesday, displaying neighborly cooperation, included a $1.5 billion investment from Mexico in “smarter border technology"

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The meeting on Tuesday, July 12 between President Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador came a month after a low point, in which the Mexican President declined President Biden’s invitation to the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. 

López Obrador told Biden he would only attend if anti-democratic nations Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba were included, but after unsuccessfully urging the U.S. President, tensions arose between the two neighboring countries that set a hovering cloud over the summit. A mere month later, the two leaders sat down at the White House to discuss some of the biggest challenges facing the two countries, including border technology, the huge influx of migrants in recent years, and rising gas prices. 

The Mexican President kicked off the forum with a half-hour speech that included Franklin D. Roosevelt’s migrant policies and the agreements later agreed upon by both leaders. With the tension of the summit still looming, López Obrador was not confrontational but did touch on some politically embarrassing topics, such as gas prices. 

"While we're waiting for prices or gasoline to go down in the United States," López Obrador said at one point, "we have decided that it was necessary for us to allow Americans who live close to the border... to go and get their gasoline on the Mexican side at lower prices.”

López Obrador ended his remarks by calling for more formalized migration policies to give certainty and protection to migrants who for years have “lived and worked in an honest manner.” All the while sneering at Republicans who will more likely than not, dislike Biden’s friendly approach to migrants, borders, and Mexico. Both sides will want to look for allowing legal migration, as workers can help level out inflation costs and worker shortages in the U.S.

Biden expressed similar sentiments agreeing with a lot of López Obrador’s “broad” statements, calling for a unity between both nations as "our nation's share close ties, family, and friendship,” Biden said, calling the recent influx of migrants a “hemispheric challenge.” 

The U.S. president also cited “overhyped headlines” as overreactions to the two sides' differences, adding the importance of the unity of the two countries for the betterment of everyone. Both sides' agreements called for the expansion of the number of work visas issued, worker protections, and welcoming more refugees. 

Another surprise was the U.S. securing border funds after years of many failed attempts to do so by the Trump administration. The $1.5 billion will be allocated over the next two years to enhance and improve “smart” border technology. 

“Borders that are more resilient, more efficient, and safer, will enhance our shared commerce,” Biden and López Obrador said in an official joint statement. 

The two leaders spoke behind closed doors away from reporters for over 45 minutes, as Biden ups his diplomacy efforts. He will travel to Israel and Saudi Arabia this week.

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