Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador agreed to invest US$1.5 billion on ‘smart’ border technologies over the next two years to “make the flow of trade and people safer and more efficient,” according to a joint official statement with US President Joe Biden. As part of the agreement, the US is to increase the cap on work visas, help create a bilateral working group on labor migration pathways and accept more refugees.
“Borders that are more resilient, more efficient, and safer, will enhance our shared commerce," reads the joint statement. "We are committed like never before to completing a multi-year joint US-Mexico border infrastructure modernization effort for projects along the 2,000-mile border.”
The agreement marks an important victory for Biden, succeeding where his predecessor failed: direct monetary investment for border infrastructure development from Mexico. For its part, the US will be drawing US$3.4 billion from its US$1 trillion infrastructure bill to fund “26 major construction and modernization projects at land ports of entry on the northern and southern border.” Their overarching objective is to bolster safety and security following the death of 53 migrants in Texas, and as migration attempts and arrests rates soar to new historical levels, according to US Customs and Border Protection figures.
Building on the commitments at the Summit of the Americas, both presidents reaffirmed their efforts to “address the underlying economic and security drivers of migration,” in recognition that “development must be at the center of all migration policies.” This includes the development of a labor mobility strategy that primordially aims to launch a bilateral working group on legal labor migration pathways and worker protections. Furthermore, both presidents pledge to help “tackle the root causes of migration across the Americas” by nurturing economic and social conditions in the region.
The agreement came to fruition despite López Obrador’s reluctance to attend the Summit of the Americas, prioritized military funding for Ukraine over Central America and the Mexican president’s strained relationship with Biden. Nevertheless, both leaders seemed to have reached a conciliatory tone.
“We know we have to face these challenges together.” The US and Mexico agree on the need to increase opportunities for legal migration, especially since more workers could help ease the US labor shortage and potentially help cushion rising prices. “This is a proven strategy that promotes economic growth as well as reduces irregular migration,” Biden said.