Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday rejected U.S. plans to build new sections of wall at the U.S.-Mexico border ahead of high-level meetings with U.S. officials expected to focus on immigration and security.
“This authorization for the construction of the wall is a step backward,” Lopez Obrador told a press conference ahead of talks in Mexico City with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other senior U.S. officials.
Lopez Obrador said drug trafficking, trade, and investment would also be on the agenda during the talks taking place amid an increase in the number of people crossing the Mexican border to the U.S.
During his meeting with Lopez Obrador, Blinken thanked him for Mexico’s efforts leading to the Sept. 15 extradition of Ovidio Guzman, a son of incarcerated kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.
The two also discussed challenges presented by irregular migration and deadly opioid fentanyl, Miller said.
U.S. officials have depicted Ovidio Guzman and some of his brothers as major traffickers of fentanyl to the U.S.
However, roadside banners that appeared this week stated the Guzman siblings have banned the production and sales of fentanyl in their stronghold, the northern state of Sinaloa.
In a policy shift for the Biden administration, the United States said on Thursday it would build additional sections of border wall and roads in Starr County, Texas, where a large number of migrants have been crossing from Mexico.
On Monday, Lopez Obrador said that 10,000 people were last week reaching the U.S. border every day.
The Mexican president blamed the extreme right of the Republican Party for pushing the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, to approve new wall construction ahead of the U.S. 2024 presidential election.
Immigration is a major campaign issue, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams was in Mexico as part of a visit to Latin America seeking solutions to the problem.
Lopez Obrador has urged the United States to support economic development in Latin America to keep migration under control.