Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador looks on during a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, February 10, 2022.
Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador looks on during a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, February 10, 2022. Reuters / EDGARD GARRIDO

Mexico's leader will visit the White House on Tuesday, a month after snubbing an invitation to a U.S-hosted summit that sought to craft regional consensus on how to stem migrant border crossings.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador skipped the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles to protest against U.S. President Joe Biden's decision to exclude the leftist governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Instead, Lopez Obrador opted to visit Biden in July, saying that relations between the two governments remained good and that during talks he would push to make it easier for Mexicans to work in the United States and help regulate migration.

A senior U.S. official acknowledged there had been some "exasperation" in parts of the U.S. government over Lopez Obrador's no-show at the summit. But this visit demonstrated the two governments had "already turned the page," the official said.

Mexico's interior minister said on June 22 the United States had agreed to offer 300,000 work visas, with about half for Mexicans and the rest for Central Americans.

However, Mexican officials have since told Reuters they are skeptical that a concrete U.S. commitment will be made, pointing to cautiousness inside the Biden administration that this could open it up to Republican criticisms on immigration.

A senior U.S. administration official briefing reporters on Monday said that following the meeting, the two countries would announce a bilateral working group on "labor, migration pathways and worker protections" and expand coordination on migration.

A separate U.S. official said access to visas would be a topic of conversation between the leaders.

Lopez Obrador on Tuesday morning met with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden's point person on efforts to address the root causes of migration in Central America, including poverty, violence and climate change.

Earlier, leaning out of his hotel window to address a crowd of cheering supporters including a mariachi band, Lopez Obrador said he would push for orderly migration so that migrants do not suffer.

"The main thing is the defense of our migrant countrymen," he said.


Republican lawmakers have blamed Biden, a Democrat, for rising migrant border crossings in the run-up to U.S. midterm congressional elections in November. Lopez Obrador meanwhile has criticised the Republican-led Texas government for measures cracking down on illegal immigration.

Mexicans have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in greater numbers in recent years amid strong demand for workers in the United States and a sluggish economy in Mexico.

U.S. Border Patrol made about 70,000 arrests of Mexican migrants in May, up from about 18,000 during the same month in 2019. Some of those caught are repeat crossers, driving up the totals.

Mexicans made up roughly half of the 53 migrants who died in a sweltering tractor trailer during a failed smuggling attempt in San Antonio last month, according to officials.

Addressing another source of U.S.-Mexico tensions, the White House talks are also expected to show "some progress" on resolving problems U.S. firms have faced in Mexico's energy sector, the senior administration official said.

Mexican and U.S. officials will also announce a task force to work to disrupt the flow of fentanyl into both countries and commit to completing a border infrastructure modernization effort, according to one of the U.S. officials.