President Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Tuesday vowed to reform and streamline the flow of migrants from Mexico to the U.S., asserting they are getting control of the volatile issue and taking aim at conservatives for resisting their efforts. “We’re working together to address this challenge in a way that upholds our nations’ laws and protects the human rights of migrants escaping desperate circumstances,” Biden said, adding that “my Republican friends in Congress should join us in solutions.” López Obrador, who has not been shy about challenging U.S. policies toward his country, praised Biden’s approach, referring indirectly to President Trump’s efforts to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Washington Post reports.
“You, President Biden, you are the first president of the United States in a very long time that has not built even one meter of wall,” López Obrador said. “And we thank you for that, sir — although some might not like it, although the conservatives don’t like it.” The Mexican president said he has asked Biden to urge Congress “to regularize the migration situation of millions of Mexicans who have been living and working in the United States.” He added, “The Statue of Liberty should never, ever become a void and empty symbol.” The presidents’ comments came at a three-way summit of the leaders of the U.S., Mexico and Canada, an annual event informally referred to as a meeting of the “three amigos.” This year, the two-day summit took place as the immigration issue was flaring again, with Biden proposing new measures amid Republican criticism that he has allowed a chaotic surge of immigrants into the country. Some House Republicans have threatened to use their new authorities to block funding or withhold support for raising the debt limit if Biden does not accede to their demands on border enforcement. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) on Tuesday criticized the president for “an open border” that has “led to millions of people coming into our country illegally.”