Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday that American conservatives "will be yelling at heaven" over policies that would "regularize and give certainty to migrants" in the two nations.
Without outright calling for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, Biden and liberal populist López Obrador released a joint statement after the meeting promising to "work to promote greater worker protections as part of a labor mobility strategy for migrant workers who seek access to legal pathways."
The two leaders also reaffirmed their "pledge to improve economic and social conditions throughout the region, creating dignified job opportunities as viable alternatives for potential migrants, and helping tackle the root causes of migration across the Americas."
Before the bilateral meeting between the two presidents, Biden acknowledged the record levels of migration into the United States and said Mexico has also been a top destination for migrants.
"And here’s what we’re going to do to address it together: My administration is leading the way to creating work opportunities through legal pathways. And last year, my administration set a record. We issued more than 300,000 H-2 visas for Mexican workers," Biden bragged. "We also reached a five-year high in the visas we issued to Central Americans, and we’re on pace to double this in fiscal year for — this fiscal year for Central America."
He went on to thank López Obrador for increasing the number of work visas given out by Mexico, which he said "is a proven strategy that fuels economic growth as well as reduces irregular migration."
Biden also stated that the Infrastructure Law provides $3.4 billion to major construction projects to make the "border safer and more efficient."
López Obrador spoke for more than half an hour, launching into the history of Mexico's cooperation with the Roosevelt administration and giving policy suggestions ranging from oil to tariffs to migration.
"It is indispensable for us to regularize and give certainty to migrants that have for years lived and worked in a very honest manner, and who are also contributing to the development of this great nation," López Obrador stated.
"I know that your adversaries — the conservatives — are going to be screaming all over the place, even to Heaven. They’re going to be yelling at Heaven... In the face of this crisis, the way out is not through conservatism. The way out is through transformation. We have to be bold in our actions. Transform not maintain the status quo," he said.
In closing remarks, Biden told the Mexican president, "We have liberals, moderates, conservatives, and extreme conservatives. I’m waiting for the Republican Party to come back to traditional conservative positions."