The newest influx of immigrants flocking to the American-Mexican border is a natural post-Trump era phenomenon with President Joe Biden easing immigration policies. Recent reports reveal a plan to transfer surplus AstraZeneca vaccine doses from the United States to Mexico. On Friday, March 19, 2021, a government watchdog group demanded Congress investigate the deal.
Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project, released a statement wherein he expressed concern that the president could have bartered the COVID-19 vaccine doses to achieve his “anti-migration goals.”
He is calling on Congress to use its oversight powers to determine if Biden used the promise to provide drugs to pressure Mexico’s government to create harsher policies that would reduce U.S.-bound migration.
Congress should determine whether the U.S. is living up to its responsibilities to asylum seekers, rebuilding the U.S.-Mexico relationship undermined by Donald Trump, [and] acting to ensure the most rapid deployment of vaccines possible across the globe.
Critics Ask If Biden’s Agreement With Mexico Humanitarian or Self-Serving?
On Thursday, March 19, several news agencies reported the Biden administration agreed to fulfill Mexico and Canada’s request for excess AstraZeneca vaccines that are not yet approved for use in the U.S. by the FDA. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked for assistance with their vaccine shortfall.
Biden’s decision to help prompted critics’ concern that there is a deeper incentive behind loaning vaccines to the Mexican government.
They see the timing as too coincidental. Biden seems to have negotiated to send greatly needed vaccines while at the same time seeking assistance slowing down the migration problem from Mexico.
Mexican and U.S. officials assert there are no quid pro quo conditions in the delivery of the greatly needed COVID-19 vaccine on a migrant enforcement crackdown. Instead, the U.S. made it clear it sought help in managing the record numbers of Central American teenagers and children.
Unnamed sources told The Washington Post that Mexico promised to allow more Central American families “expelled” under the United States’ emergency health order. At the same time, they urged Biden to share the vaccine supply.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki cautioned the plan is not completely finalized as the details need to be worked out with AstraZeneca. She explained the U.S. has 7 million doses in the government stockpile. When approved, Mexico will receive 2.5 million and Canada would be sent 1.5 million doses.
An official at the White House stated:
Our top priority remains vaccinating the U.S. population, but the reality is that this virus knows no borders, and ensuring our neighbors can contain the virus is mission-critical to protecting the health and economic security of Americans and for stopping the spread of covid-19 around the globe.
Biden previously stated his officials were “talking with several countries” about the U.S. supply of AstraZeneca vaccines. He added his top priority is to vaccinate everyone in the country to ensure COVID-19 is under control before assisting other countries. However, if there is a surplus “we’re going to share it with the rest of the world.”
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Hill: Biden to send surplus AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Mexico, Canada; by Morgan Chalfant and Justine Coleman
The Washington Post: Biden will send Mexico surplus vaccine, as U.S. seeks help on immigration enforcement; by Nick Miroff, Karen DeYoung and Kevin Sieff
The New York Times: U.S. to Send Millions of Vaccine Doses to Mexico and Canada; by Natalie Kitroeff, Maria Abi-Habib, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, and Jim Tankersley
Common Dreams: Watchdog Urges Congress to Probe Whether Biden ‘Bartered’ Vaccines for Mexico Migration Crackdown; by Jake Johnson
Featured and Top Image by gencat cat Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Ben W’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License