Vice President Kamala Harris witnessed the signing of an agreement in Mexico City on Tuesday to establish greater cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico to limit migration flows from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Ms. Harris and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador watched at the Palacio Nacional as representatives of both nations signed the memorandum of understanding that calls for greater economic development in the so-called “Northern Triangle” countries. The agreement is aimed at reducing the surge of migrants from Central America seeking to cross illegally into the U.S.
The vice president wore a mask at the ceremony. Her host, a noted skeptic of COVID-19 shutdown policies, did not.
“I strongly believe we are embarking on a new era,” Ms. Harris said later during a meeting with Mr. Lopez Obrador. U.S. journalists said Mexican officials barred at least one of the reporters traveling with Ms. Harris from attending the photo-op of their meeting.
Asked by reporters if he would increase security at Mexico‘s northern border with the U.S., the populist Mexican president said, “We are very pleased to have her here and we will touch on that subject, but always addressing the fundamental root causes [of migration].”
The Mexican president has blamed President Biden for the increase in migration, saying the Democrat created “expectations” that crossing the border would be easier than it had been under the Trump administration.
U.S. authorities saw more than 170,000 encounters on the border in April, the highest level in more than 20 years.
U.S. special envoy Ricardo Zuniga said the agreement with Mexico marks a new level of cooperation.
“It’s very important to show that the United States and Mexico are collaborating and trying to improve conditions on the ground among our neighbors, because of the importance that other countries in Central America have for both of us,” he told reporters traveling with the vice president.
Ms. Harris began her first trip as vice president abroad in Guatemala, where she received a cordial welcome mixed with demonstrations in the streets of Guatemala City. Her motorcade passed protesters holding signs proclaiming, “Kamala, Trump won” and “Kamala, Mind Your Own Business.”