Vice President Harris is set to meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador Tuesday on her first international trip as the Biden administration’s point person on the root causes of the migrant crisis.
Harris will meet Obrador after a day in Guatemala, where she will speak with President Alejandro Giammattei Monday.
The vice president’s office said that Harris and Obrador will discuss how to “cooperate to bolster efforts in the Northern Triangle” and “economic and security issues.”
The focus on the Northern Triangle, which refers to the three Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, comes as Harris and President Biden continue to emphasize what they call the “root causes” of illegal immigration – squalor and violence in those countries – over border security.
Here’s what to know about Obrador ahead of Harris’ meeting with the Mexican president.
Obrador was a harsh critic of former President Donald Trump
Obrador was not shy about responding to Trump’s harsh rhetoric about immigration through Mexico, including claims that Trump would make Mexico pay for the southern border wall.
Obrador once vowed that Mexico “will never be the piñata of any foreign government.”
The Mexican president also once called the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which separated families found crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, “arrogant, racist and inhuman.”
Shortly after Trump imposed a tariff on Mexican products, Obrador lashed out at the former president in a biting letter. He said that Trump turned “the United States, overnight, from a country of brotherly love for immigrants from around the world, to a bolted space, where there’s stigmatizing, mistreatment, abuse, persecution, and a denial of the right to justice to those who seek — with sacrifice and hard work — to live free from misery.”
Obrador has blamed Biden for the migrant surge
Obrador said earlier this year, contrary to repeated claims from the Biden administration, that the new president during his campaign seemed to signal to migrants that conditions for them to come to the United States would be better once he was in office.
“Expectations were created that with the government of President Biden there would be a better treatment of migrants,” Obrador said in March, in comments translated to English by Reforma correspondent José Díaz-Briseño. “And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so,” Obrador added.
Obrador has already met virtually with Harris
According to the White House, Harris has spoken with Obrador on at least three separate occasions.
After an April 7 call, the White House said that Harris thanked “Obrador for his cooperation on migration issues” and that they agreed to “address the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle countries.”
The two leaders also met virtually on May 7, with the White House readout reflecting essentially the same contents as their conversation from the month earlier.
And on Thursday, Harris spoke with Obrador and other global leaders in separate phone calls in which she told them the U.S. will be donating millions of coronavirus vaccines.
According to a tweet from Obrador, the U.S. will give Mexico one million Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Obrador said that he expressed appreciation on behalf of his country.
The gathering this week, which will likely happen on June 8, will be the first time the two leaders meet in person.
Fox News’ Greg Norman contributed to this report.