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Biden in Mexico for talks on migrants, drugs

A regional migration and drug smuggling crisis is expected to dominate talks between US President Joe Biden and his Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday. Biden arrived in Mexico City late Sunday after a politically charged stop at the southern US border -- his first since taking office. He will meet Monday and…

Mexican families separated by the border wall are reunited for three minutes in the seventh edition of the Hugs Not Walls event organized by the Border Network for Human Rights, in front of the border wall on the Rio Grande in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico (Photo by Herika Martinez / AFP)

A regional migration and drug smuggling crisis is expected to dominate talks between US President Joe Biden and his Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday.

Biden arrived in Mexico City late Sunday after a politically charged stop at the southern US border — his first since taking office.

He will meet Monday and Tuesday with Lopez Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau one-on-one and also together in what is dubbed the “Three Amigos” summit.

While trade and environmental issues are also on the table, Biden has put a surge in irregular migration and dangerous drug trafficking front and center of his trip, his first to Mexico as president.

“Our problems at the border didn’t arise overnight,” Biden tweeted after his arrival.

“And they won’t be solved overnight. But, we can come together to fix this broken system. We can secure the border and fix the immigration process to be orderly, fair, safe, and humane.”

On his way to Mexico, Biden stopped for several hours in El Paso, Texas, a city at the heart of the troubled border.

He met with US officials at the Bridge of the Americas crossing, watching a demonstration of the latest border enforcement technology, as well as a customs sniffer dog. He later got out of his motorcade to inspect a section of the tall fencing that snakes between El Paso and its twin city Juarez on the Mexican side.

“They need a lot of resources. We’re going to get it for them,” Biden told reporters after his visit to the customs post.

– Asylum overhaul –

Biden is under huge political pressure in the face of spiraling illegal border crossings and applications for asylum by people making perilous journeys from regional countries afflicted by repression, poverty or severe crime.

Adding to the crisis has been a surge in cross-border smuggling of the highly addictive and often deadly narcotic fentanyl.

Biden’s visit sought to respond to Republican accusations that he has been ignoring the situation.

But meeting Biden off Air Force One at El Paso’s airport, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott handed him a letter blasting the visit as “$20 billion too little and two years too late.”

In his meetings with Lopez Obrador and Trudeau, Biden will address the regional scope of the issue.

“It’s gripping the hemisphere, and a regional challenge requires a regional solution,” US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told ABC News, noting that migrants were on the move from as far afield as Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Biden on Thursday announced an expansion of powers to expel people showing up at the border without clearance.

At the same time, a legal, strictly enforced pathway will be created for up to 30,000 migrants a month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

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