Former ambassador to coordinate border policy in Biden administration

Former ambassador to coordinate border policy in Biden administration

Former United States ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson will be the southern border coordinator for the new U.S. administration to be led by Joe Biden.

News website Foreign Policy said Monday that it had learned that Jacobson, ambassador to Mexico between 2016 and 2018, would be named coordinator for the southwestern border on the United States National Security Council (NSC).

Juan Sebastián González, Biden’s primary Latin America adviser, tweeted the Foreign Policy report and appeared to confirm the former diplomat’s appointment to the incoming administration.

“I’ve always looked up to Ambassador Roberta Jacobson. Respected, experienced, and capable, few care as deeply or have worked as hard to advance a U.S.-Mexico relationship that lives up to its full potential. There is no one better to lead this challenging task,” he wrote.

Foreign Policy reported that in the newly-established NSC position, Jacobson will play a key role in implementing the Biden administration’s proposed reforms to the national asylum system, which according to a transition team spokesperson will aim to “restore order and a fair asylum process while prioritizing public health.”

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“… We will build a new immigration system that is fair, humane, and keeps families together,” the spokesperson said, adding that it will take months, not days or weeks, to construct it.

“It will not be like flipping a light switch. Migrants should not believe those peddling the idea that now is the time to come to the U.S.”

Foreign Policy also said that Jacobson would be involved in managing national security challenges stemming from Mexico and Central America countries.

Jacobson, who worked in the U.S. State Department for more than 30 years, will also help manage Washington’s relations with Mexico and Central American nations, Foreign Policy said.

President López Obrador appeased United States President Donald Trump by agreeing to ramp up enforcement against migrants traveling through Mexico en route to the U.S.

He deployed the National Guard at the southern and northern borders in 2019 after Trump threatened to impose blanket tariffs on Mexican imports if Mexico didn’t do more to stop the flow of asylum seekers and agreed to an expansion of the United States “Remain in Mexico” policy which involves making U.S. asylum seekers wait in dangerous northern border cities until their cases are resolved.

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During a visit to a section of the border wall in Texas last week, Trump bragged about the deployment of Mexican troops to the border region.

“I want to thank the great president of Mexico. He is a great gentleman, a friend of mine. And President Obrador — he is a man who really knows what’s happening. And he loves his country, and he also loves the United States. But I want to thank him for his friendship and his professional working relationship,” he said.

“We actually had 27,000 Mexican soldiers guarding our borders over the last two years. Nobody thought that was possible. And they made it very, very difficult, and that’s why the [migration] numbers were able to plunge, even during the construction of the wall.”

While López Obrador and Trump have maintained a surprising friendship, the former’s relationship with Biden and his administration could be more strained.

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López Obrador made a veiled warning to Biden to stay out of Mexico’s affairs in a belated congratulatory letter he sent to the president-elect last month, and the case of former defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos, who was arrested on drug trafficking charges in the United States and later exonerated here, has the potential to be an obstacle to harmonious bilateral relations.

López Obrador accused the U.S. of fabricating evidence against the ex-army chief and declared Monday that his government won’t remain silent in light of the “irresponsible” investigation.

Jacobson, however, could help to foster a positive relationship between the López Obrador and Biden governments, at least on border and migration issues.

The experienced diplomat has a deep love for and understanding of Mexico and declared in a farewell video when leaving her ambassadorial post in 2018 that the United States and its southern neighbor “have a lot more that unites us — food, family, culture, history — than what divides us.”

Source: Foreign Policy (en), EFE (sp) 

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