Mexico Elects AMLO as New President

By Kausha Luna on July 2, 2018

On Sunday, Mexicans elected their new president. Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) will take office on December 1.

During his victory speech, the president-elect promised to create jobs so Mexicans "can work and be happy where they were born, where their families are, their customs, their cultures," and so those who emigrate can do it by choice and not out of necessity. With the government of the United States, AMLO said he will "seek a relationship of friendship and cooperation for growth, always based on mutual respect and the defense of [Mexican] migrants who live and work honestly in that country."

While AMLO talked about serving the most marginalized and building a more inclusive Mexico, he did not mention Central American migrants crossing through Mexico. This comes as no surprise; AMLO's campaign focused on domestic issues, such as fighting rampant corruption and growing levels of violence. The left wing politician will have his hands full trying to deliver on these promises. Thus, issues of migration will certainly be lower on the agenda.

That said, what can be expected from the AMLO administration, as it relates to U.S. immigration? Initially, the United States could see a decrease in cooperation on stemming Central American migration, under the president-elect. López Obrador has signaled a lesser willingness to continue the United States' "dirty work". Consequently, AMLO could go as far as decreasing spending on curbing migration, a lower priority for the candidate who promised to increase spending on social programs such as scholarships and pensions. And at the very least, AMLO's rhetoric against President Trump's immigration policies will be stronger than that of President Peña Nieto, who has been criticized for not speaking up on behalf of Mexico. Nevertheless, López Obrador recognizes he will have to maintain a relationship with the Trump administration and says he wants a "friendly relationship with the government of the United States, but not one of subordination."

As I've written before, maintaining a strict non-cooperation and open borders agenda could prove difficult. The United States holds the upper hand on bilateral negotiations, and without a relief-valve at its northern border, the new Mexican government would have to truly commit to absorbing any migration coming across its southern border. It remains to be seen what approach the AMLO administration will take come December.

Topics: Mexico