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Speaker Johnson to Biden: Mexico 'will do what we say'

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Thursday doubled down on his calls to reinstate the “Remain in Mexico” policy for migrants trying to enter the U.S. and recounted telling President Biden that Mexico “will do what we say” if the administration decides to implement the policy.

Speaking to reporters about migration, Johnson touted H.R. 2, the House-approved GOP border bill that includes many elements of former President Trump’s policies.

“How do you reduce the flow? The answer is simple. You reinstate Remain in Mexico, that alone would reduce the flow by 70 percent — that’s their estimate,” Johnson said.

“I told the president that at the White House again. He acted as though he had never heard that, didn’t understand, said he couldn’t do it. I said, ‘That’s not true.'”

“‘Well, Mexico doesn’t want that,’” said Johnson, relaying his account of Biden’s response.

“Mr. President. We’re the United States, Mexico will do what we say, OK. President Trump did it. Why can’t you do it?”

Johnson’s statement comes amid tensions between Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and U.S. administration officials, stoked by a series of news stories about investigations into financial ties between drug cartels and López Obrador aides.

Over the past week López Obrador has dropped a range of accusations of foreign intervention, particularly after a New York Times report found U.S. officials had begun — and quickly scrapped — investigations into drug money connections to his victorious 2018 presidential campaign.

Ahead of that story, López Obrador doxed The New York Times’s bureau chief in Mexico, Natalie Kitroeff, projecting and reading aloud her phone number, and over subsequent days defended his actions, alleging presidential liberty trumps Mexico’s strict privacy laws.

The country’s independent transparency agency opened an investigation into López Obrador the day after the incident.

His anger over the story has not subsided, and he has threatened to skip the upcoming North American Leaders’ Summit, where he is scheduled to meet Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

López Obrador on Thursday added Canada’s reinstatement of visa requirements for Mexican nationals to the list of reasons why he won’t attend the summit.

Still, the Mexican president remains a key player, painstakingly courted by the Biden administration, in controlling migrant flows toward the U.S.-Mexico border.

López Obrador’s office did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

While Remain in Mexico has been discounted by many border experts as a dangerous and inefficient way to reduce border crossings, Johnson’s recounting of its implementation was accurate.

In 2019, Trump threatened to impose tariffs if Mexico did not agree to receive third-country nationals awaiting asylum processing in the United States, and he quickly obtained López Obrador’s acquiescence.

“That, among other things, is the tone and the muscle memory left by the way in which López Obrador folded — and how he did it — with Trump in March of 2019,” tweeted Arturo Sarukhán, Mexico’s former ambassador to the United States.

Source: The Hill

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