Vice President Kamala Harris told Mexico’s president in a virtual meeting that the two nations need to “build a sense of home” in Central American countries where migrants have been fleeing in historic numbers to the U.S.
“Mexico is our closest neighbor and we share a border, of course,” Ms. Harris told President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. “This partnership couldn’t be more important today. Our nations face serious challenges, COVID being an obvious one, economic repercussions coming from the COVID pandemic, as well as the surge of migrants arriving at our shared border.”
President Biden has tapped Ms. Harris to handle migration issues involving the “Northern Triangle” nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The vice president will travel to Mexico early next month to meet with Mr. Lopez Obrador.
At Friday’s virtual meeting with Mexico’s leader, Ms. Harris said the two nations share “the belief that together we can make progress and we can create and build a sense of home for the people of the Northern Triangle.”
Mr. Lopez Obrador, who accused the U.S. a day earlier of financing an anti-corruption group as a “coup” plot against his government, said the neighbors “need to understand one another and avoid fighting.”
“I was saying to President Biden last time we met that when our relations were not completely positive between our countries, our president … during his administration, would say ‘for Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States,’” he said. “Now we can say ‘blessed Mexico, so close to God and not so far from the United States.’”
Mr. Lopez Obrador praised the selection of Ms. Harris to lead the effort on migration.
“We are in agreement when it comes to the policies that you are undertaking, when it comes to migration, and we will help,” he said. “You can count on us.”
He said he has a specific proposal but would “leave that for later.”
Ms. Harris said it’s in America’s and Mexico’s “mutual interest to provide immediate relief to the Northern Triangle and to address the root causes of migration.”
“Together we must fight violence,” she said. “We must fight corruption and impunity.”
Republicans have criticized Ms. Harris for failing to visit the border region. She has said her role is focused on diplomacy with Mexico and the other countries, not on border enforcement.