Biden challenged by the Mexican president on his ‘forgetfulness’ during the North American Leaders’ Summit

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador challenged President Biden on his “forgetfulness” to help Latin American countries during the North American Leaders’ Summit Monday. He also encouraged him to prioritize fixing the migration crisis affecting the US-Mexico border.

While public comments mostly struck a positive tone, López Obrador pressed Biden over his “abandonment” and “forgetfulness” to help Central American countries.

“This is the moment for us to decide to do away with this abandonment, this disdain, and this forgetfulness for Latin America and the Caribbean,” Lopez Obrador said during a press conference Monday.

López Obrador also said that Biden had the “key” to improving life for the region.

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President Joe Biden speaks during the North American Leaders’ Summit on Jan. 10, 2023, in Mexico City.
(Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

“You hold the key in your hand,” the Mexican leader said of the US president.

By Tuesday, López Obrador’s comments were more positive as he praised Biden for not building “even one meter of wall,” a clear reference to Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump.

Still, López Obrador urged Biden to “insist” Congress make more accommodations to allow undocumented Mexican migrants to work in industries where American employers are struggling to hire.

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President Joe Biden shakes hands with his President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador during a welcome ceremony in Mexico City, on Jan.  9, 2023.

President Joe Biden shakes hands with his President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador during a welcome ceremony in Mexico City, on Jan. 9, 2023.
(Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the 10th North American Leaders' Summit at the National Palace in Mexico City, Tuesday, Jan.  10, 2023.

President Joe Biden, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the 10th North American Leaders’ Summit at the National Palace in Mexico City, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Mexico’s president also spoke at length about his country’s efforts to help limit the flow of fentanyl into the US. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that has become the main driver of drug overdose deaths in America.

“We are battling fentanyl, these chemicals, and we are doing it because we care. No human is foreign to us,” he said. “It really matters to us to be able to help with what is happening in the United States, the deaths from fentanyl. But also as we discussed today, it is not only an issue for the United States, because if we don’t confront this problem, this scourge, we are going to suffer it, too. So we have to act in a coordinated way.”

Biden, López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Monday and Tuesday for the North American Leaders’ Summit, where the three world leaders shared their goals for global trade, managing large waves of migrants coming into the region, and supporting Ukraine.

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They also discussed handling energy issues and semiconductor production, reducing climate change impacts – pledging to cut methane emissions – and, forming a more cohesive regional strategy for dealing with future pandemic-related health threats.

“We are true partners of the three of us,” Biden said Tuesday at a joint news conference in Mexico City. He also said they each shared a “genuine like” for each other.

“We share a common vision for the future, based on common values,” Biden added.

President Joe Biden, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the National Palace in Mexico City, Tuesday, Jan.  10, 2023.

President Joe Biden, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the National Palace in Mexico City, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared their goals for global trade, managing large waves of migrants coming into the region, and supporting Ukraine.

President Joe Biden, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared their goals for global trade, managing large waves of migrants coming into the region, and supporting Ukraine.
(AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Despite the praise, the leaders have found themselves at odds this past year.

The US is urging Trudeau and Canada to help lead an international mission to Haiti to help solve an ongoing humanitarian and security crisis.

“We need to make sure that the solutions are driven by the people of Haiti themselves,” Trudeau said on Tuesday, calling the situation “heartbreaking.”

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Also, the US and Mexico continue to strategize on how best to deal with an influx of migrants who are seeking access to America.

Many of these migrants — mostly from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela — have been forced to wait at the US-Mexico border as Title 42, a Trump-era immigration policy, is set to expire.

While the Biden administration continues to claim the border is “secure,” the US Customs and Border Protection has reported there were more than 2.3 million migrant encounters in FY 2022 alone.

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This figure tops the then-historic 1.7 million encountered in FY 2021. So far in FY 2023, which began in October, migrant encounters are outpacing the same period last year.

Fox News’ Adam Sabes and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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