Biden, Mexico's president to discuss immigration in virtual talks

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US President Joe Biden and Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will discuss the increasingly contentious issue of migration across their common border this week, the White House said Tuesday.

The virtual meeting on Friday will cover the neighbors’ economy, security and energy concerns, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

They will also discuss the June regional Summit of the Americas “and how North America can lead on priority initiatives for the region.”

However, the most closely watched topic is likely to be what Psaki called “cooperation on migration.”

The problem of heavy flows of would-be migrants and asylum seekers through Mexico and into the southern United States is a political hot potato for Biden ahead of November midterm legislative elections.

Biden’s Democratic Party is on the defensive against Republican attacks that the situation on the US-Mexico border is out of control, while the White House says it is up to Congress to enact laws fixing what Psaki calls a “broken immigration system.”

The issue is bubbling up again with the planned expiry on May 23 of the Title 42 policy, a health regulation that allowed rapid expulsion of undocumented migrants due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There are concerns that with those restrictions lifted, the already heavy flow of migrants will dramatically expand.

However, following a lawsuit by a group of southern US states, a court on Monday issued a temporary stay on the lifting of Title 42.

Another front in the migration battle opened Tuesday in the Supreme Court, which was hearing arguments on Biden’s attempt to suspend a policy instituted by his predecessor Donald Trump, forcing asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases are under consideration.

Trump imposed the rule as part of his hardline policies, popular on the far right, while critics called it inhumane, forcing already desperate people into dangerous conditions on the Mexican side of the border.