Biden lands in Mexico for 'Three Amigos' summit after his three hour tour of ... trends now
Having finally checked the box of a border visit off his list after repeated demands of his rivals, President Joe Biden landed south of the border, where he will confront vexing problems of the drug trade and illegal immigration at the 'Three Amigos' summit.
Biden will be on the ground for just two days, but the challenges he and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Canadian President Justin Trudeau will try to tackle have bedeviled leaders going back decades.
The administration has signaled that the the burgeoning fentanyl trade, with the deadly synthetic opiate and other drugs pouring over the border, will garner attention here. Mexican authorities sent their own signal of commitment to confronting the issue with the arrest days ago of the son Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán.
But the explosive operation – which left at least 30 dead as cartel members shot up the town of Culiacan where Ovidio Guzman was apprehended – also revealed the extend of the cartel's control in the region. It included 11 military and law enforcement dead along with 19 suspected gunman for the Sinaloa cartel amid a fierce gun battle.
U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at Felipe Angeles International Airport on the outskirts of Mexico City. He came after a brief visit to the border in El Paso, Texas
President Joe Biden will talk about immigration, the drug trade, the economy, and the environment during his summit meetings in Mexico City with the presidents of Mexico and Canada
Before the trip, White House security spokesman John Kirby said 'we're making strides' along with partners in fentanyl seizures.
'In fact, since August of last year, Customs and Border Patrol agents have seized more than 20,000 pounds of fentanyl,' he said, amid a spike of drug overdoses linked to other opiates cut with the powerful synthetic.
Some experts are questioning the Mexican government's commitment to battling the powerful drug cartels. After authorities captured the younger Guzman in 2019, the president ordered him released.
Lopez Obrador said he gave the order 'so as not to put the population at risk' after cartel gunmen swarmed the city of Culiacan.
'Mexico wants to do at least the bare minimum in terms of counter-drug efforts,' said Mike Vigil, the former chief of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Army soldiers drive past a destroyed vehicle on the streets of Jesus Maria, Mexico, on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, the small town where Ovidio Guzman was detained earlier in the week. Thursday's government operation to detain Ovidio, the son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, unleashed firefights that killed 10 military personnel and 19 suspected members of the Sinaloa drug cartel, according to authorities
President Joe Biden talks with Oscar Leeser, Mayor of the City of El Paso, Texas, as they stand near a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. It is one of many difficult issues the leaders of the three North American countries will discuss
US First Lady Jill Biden (R) listens to Monsenior Salvador Martinez during her visit to the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City on January 8, 2023
The first lady arrived ahead of her husband, and has a cultural itinerary during the summit
'I don't think that this is a sign that there´s going to be closer cooperation, bilateral collaboration, if you will, between the United States and Mexico,' he told the AP.
Biden arrives days after pitching his new immigration plan, which includes accepting 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela each month, in an effort to lower the incentives for immigration claims between entry points at the border.
Mexico, which is itself contending with an onslaught of immigration from other countries, has announced its own policy to accept the same 30,000 figure.
Biden has yet to win over critics with his quick trip to the border, although going may be a start.
'We're glad he's come to the border after over two years of being president. But will he take the advice of all the frontline workers on the border? That's yet to be determined,' Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who is set to chair the powerful Oversight Committee, told DailyMail.com.
The summit's official name is the North American Leaders Summit.
First Lady Jill Biden is joining her husband on the trip, with plans to visit cultural sites. She is set to hold a 'conversation on women's empowerment, meet local students for a Tochito NFL flag football event, and join Dr. Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller for a Fandango por la Lectura at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City.
On Tuesday, she meets with spouses of the two presidents, Dr. Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller and Mrs. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City.
Then the trio will tour the Templo Mayor in the center of the city. It was the primary temple of the Mexica people in Tenochtitlan, and is the site of an ongoing architectural dig.
The Republican governor of Texas delivered a frosty welcome to Biden in El Paso on Sunday, accusing him of opening the southern border to illegal immigrants and handing him a letter demanding that he take more action to tackle the crisis.
Gov. Greg Abbott also blasted Biden's visit — his first to the border as president — saying that the city had been cleaned up for his trip.
'President Biden's border visit today is to a sanitized version of El Paso,' he tweeted, referencing the way law enforcement agents have cleared out migrant camps in the city.
'He has no plans to enforce federal immigration laws. Biden's plan will only entice MORE illegal crossings.'
Gov. Greg Abbott welcomed President Joe Biden to El Paso, Texas, with a frosty letter demanding more action to tackle illegal immigration and accusing him of opening borders
Biden then met with US Customs and Border Protection police on the Bridge of the Americas border crossing between Mexico and the US in El Paso
Gov. Greg Abbott made five demands in the letter he handed to President Joe Biden on Sunday:
You must comply with the many statutes mandating that various categories of aliens 'shall' be detained, and end the practice of unlawfully paroling aliens en masse.
You must stop sandbagging the implementation of the Remain-in-Mexico policy and Title 42 expulsions, and fully enforce those measures as the federal courts have ordered you to do.
You must aggressively prosecute illegal entry between ports of entry, and allow ICE to remove illegal immigrants in accordance with existing federal laws.
You must immediately resume construction of the border wall in the State of Texas, using the billions of dollars Congress has appropriated for that purpose.
You must designate the Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
Biden touched down in the border city around midday in what officials hoped was a chance to underscore his commitment to tackling illegal immigration.
Republicans have used record numbers of illegal arrivals to bludgeon the Biden administration during the past two years.
But any slight hopes that they might welcome the president's attention to the issue quickly evaporated as Abbot could be seen on the asphalt handing a letter to the president.
'Under your watch ... America is suffering the worst illegal immigration in the history of our country,' it says.
'Your open-border policies have emboldened the cartels, who grow wealthy by trafficking deadly fentanyl and even human beings.'
He urged Biden to resume building the border wall that was begun under President Donald Trump.
And he said the Biden administration must designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
'When you finish the photo-ops in a carefully stage-managed version of El Paso, you have a