President Biden met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico on January 9 and 10 in Mexico City, reportedly to discuss economic policies, climate change, and immigration. In reality, the U.S., Mexico, Canada summit was a bunch of headline-grabbing empty promises, including big pledges to bring down methane emissions and install more vehicle charging stations in Mexico. But even if these promises were met, they would not make a dent in the climate crisis.
U.S. corporations have been interested in Mexico for decades due to its close proximity and plentiful low-wage workers, and this interest has only increased in recent years as economic competition with China has continued to grow. The U.S. has lost access to investments in some markets in China and has cancelled other investments, and one coping strategy has been to shift investment and manufacturing to Mexico to try to make up the difference. This process has begun in various industries, including clothing manufacturing, auto parts production, and others.
U.S. and Canadian companies had real concerns to raise at the meeting on changes that could help them bring down costs to boost their profits. Corporations from both nations that operate in Mexico have complained about access to energy and power ever since the Obrador administration has promoted policies that favor Mexico’s state oil and power companies. U.S. corporations expected the Biden administration to use the recent meetings to try to arrange access to cheaper energy for U.S. corporations in Mexico, but those issues weren’t resolved publicly.
At the same time, the meeting pretended to address the record number of migrants coming to the U.S.-Mexico border, fleeing violence, ecological crisis, and economic instability. Last year 2,378,944 migrants were arrested at the border, the highest number ever recorded. But the politicians’ concern is not how violence, ecological crisis, and economic instability are affecting the people forced to flee. The only plan they have is more of the same, continuing the record number of deportations and their further militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition, throughout this period, a Trump-era policy known as Title 42 has been in place, which has allowed border authorities to expel migrants much more swiftly. At first, the Biden administration promised to remove Title 42, which was being upheld by court order. But the moment a judge finally ruled last month that the policy could be stopped, the Biden administration reversed course and has appealed to keep Title 42 in place because it has no alternative to address the record number of asylum seekers at the border.
In addition, the Biden administration has been quietly continuing portions of the Trump-era border wall construction in the Rio Grande Valley. Under Biden, the project is cloaked in what is described as “levee repairs,” but in fact it is the construction of 13 miles of concrete walls topped with guard rails, seamlessly connected to the border wall that was constructed during the Trump administration. Despite a shift in rhetoric, the Biden administration has continued exactly where the Trump administration left off.
In the end, the summit was just further verification of the continuation of the same policies of pillage and plunder that characterize the past decades. These politicians may speak about climate change being an existential threat but their economic policies continue to make it worse. And they might make speeches about treating immigrants with respect and dignity, but they continue to increase deportations and border militarization even as they maintain the same policies that are wreaking havoc on the home countries migrants are fleeing.