PHARR, Texas (Border Report) — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promises to bolster security in his country and reduce the production of fentanyl, says a South Texas congressman who was among a dozen American lawmakers that met with the Mexican leader this past weekend.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, was in that four-hour meeting with López Obrador on Sunday at his palace in Mexico City, which focused on immigration, crime and drugs, Cuellar told Border Report on Tuesday.
The bipartisan delegation was led by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and included several lawmakers from border states, like U.S. Reps. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat, and Tony Gonzalez, a Republican, both of West Texas and U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Independent from Arizona.
Other U.S. lawmakers included:
- U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware
- U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas,
- U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut
- U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
- U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia
- U.S. Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vermont
- U.S. Rep. Maria Salazar, R-Florida
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar also attended, as did most of López Obrador’s cabinet ministers, Cuellar said.
He said it was one of the frankest and most detailed discussions he has ever had with a sitting Mexican president. He complimented López Obrador’s knowledge of border security issues and his ability to make decisions.
Lopez Obrador notified the U.S. lawmakers that Mexico was moving its headquarters for its customs officials from Mexico City to the northern border town of Nuevo Laredo, across the Rio Grande from Cuellar’s hometown of Laredo.
The Mexican president also repeatedly stressed to lawmakers that Mexico is investing $1.2 billion in border technology and infrastructure. This includes about $800 million worth of equipment that Mexico is currently in the process of buying from American companies.
“These are the same companies that produce the technology that we have here at the World Trade Bridge and other places. That’s important because, as he said, ‘our technology has to speak to your technology,'” Cuellar said.
The shared technology will allow officials on both sides of the border to share images and security footage of border wall areas.
Mexican officials said they would work with U.S. officials as much as possible to help locate missing Americans. But they also discussed how drug cartels control certain regions of the country, and how they route drugs north into the United States, and it was general knowledge among the group that some areas of Mexico are simply too dangerous for Americans to travel.
“That’s why those travel warnings are very, very important. But on the issue, the Mexicans said, ‘Look, we’re going to work with you. We’re trying to provide security for everybody, you know, not only Americans, but for everybody,'” Cuellar said.
Cuellar said López Obrador also promised to speak with Chinese officials to get them to stop the export of precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl from being imported into Mexico.
The U.S. State Department last week warned Americans not to buy medications south of the border because they could be laced with deadly fentanyl. This includes OxyContin, Percocet and Xanax.
“He realizes there’s a problem because he wanted us to understand that we understood that he was going to ask China for help on fentanyl coming into Mexico and therefore to the U.S.,” Cuellar said.
“The United States and Mexico share a common border, which means we should have a shared interest in working together to address the security challenges that put American and Mexican lives at risk, including drugs, murderous cartels, and unchecked migration,” Cornyn said in a statement. “Our delegation made clear to President López Obrador that his administration must do more to address these issues so that we can maintain our historically strong economic and cultural partnership, and I am hopeful that our candid conversations will lead to collaborative solutions that make both countries safer and more prosperous.”
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com