Harris in Mexico: from AMLO to the Sun Belt
Por Milton Merlo
Details and venture plans for the vice president of the US after the election. Biden's destiny at the border states.

A few hours after learning the results of the midterm election in Mexico, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will land in Mexico City. It will be on Monday night, when the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador is still counting the triumphs that are achieved and the control of the damages that are irreparable.

The date has been carefully calculated. It was defined by Nancy McEldowney, Harris' top national security adviser. She was the one who conveyed to Mexican diplomacy that the vice president needs to know before her trip what level of political strength the Mexican Government will encounter for what she is coming to propose. McEldowney is a career diplomat who comes from Bill Clinton's Administration where she was his main adviser for everything related with the relationship with Europe. She is the one who is planning Harris' incursion to Mexico.

The vice president needs to solve the drama that Joe Biden faces in the states bordering Mexico, the so-called Sun Belt. The pandemic has further detonated the drama of uncontrolled migration in those states that Biden needs to win over for the 2022 midterm election. That will all depend on the Congress and the economic reforms that the Democratic president intends to play out.

Harris will bring two antagonistic, but complementary plans. One will encompass a plan being worked out in Biden's cabinet to accelerate the removal of illegal immigrants, something that is not too far from what Donald Trump intended. The other is an outline of a project to promote legal immigration into the United States: work visas, student visas and humanitarian visas for people persecuted by violence.

The first part aims to benefit voters in border states who directly associate illegal immigration with criminality. The second shows a friendlier stance towards immigrants and allows the dismantling of a tough Trump-era policy. Both issues will be discussed with LĂłpez Obrador.

The coexistence of both plans is more than an expression for a more balanced government intended by Biden and Harris. The limits of extreme security and legality are for centrist Democrats, and neoliberals along the lines of Barack Obama or Clinton. On the other hand, the change for a friendlier immigration system corresponds to the views of an extreme sector of the party, the one that refers to Senator Bernie Sanders or Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortés. Harris wants to succeed Biden and understands that she needs these politicians in order to achieve that ambition.

In Mexico, a president that awaits her is one under high levels of stress and who has not yet found harmony with the White House. Former Ambassador Christopher Landau, who knows LĂłpez Obrador, offered an opinion earlier at a dinner in Monterrey: A moderately favorable outcome in Sunday's elections may guarantee a bilateral exchange without too much sway, but an adverse definition will be more complex for the conversations because the president will become stronger in his thesis that the US operates with the Mexican opposition to harm him.

Harris' trip also closes the circle of bilateral meetings on the three decisive issues for Washington: security, immigration and investments. The latter began three weeks ago with the trilateral summits of the T-MEC. The vice president arrives next week for the second meeting. And the first, which is the most sensitive, had its initial episode last week, when various Mexican government officials heard the plans for Mexico from William Burns, the new director of the CIA.

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