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What We’re Watching: Biden at the border, Three Amigos Summit, China’s reopening

President Joe Biden walks along the border fence during his visit to the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas.

President Joe Biden walks along the border fence during his visit to the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Biden goes to El Paso

President Joe Biden on Sunday visited the US-Mexico border for the first time since taking office and at a time when he's getting flak from all sides for his immigration policies. Biden did the usual stuff: He toured a busy port of entry, walked along the border fence, and met with officials like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who chided the president for taking so long to show up — feeding into the Republican narrative that blames Biden for the surge of migrant arrivals in recent months. But the president has also upset the left wing of his Democratic Party after failing to deliver on many of his promises to undo the Trump administration's harshest immigration curbs — especially by being wishy-washy on ending Title 42, a Trump-era rule that allows US authorities to expel asylum-seekers on public health grounds that the Supreme Court is now sitting on. What's more, last week Biden announced that migrants from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela would be required to apply from outside the US and be punished if they don't. While the president is otherwise benefiting from the GOP's civil war in Congress, his immigration headache won't go away anytime soon.

Biden, AMLO & Trudeau meet in Mexico City

After his border visit, Biden will travel to Mexico City on Monday for the annual meeting of North American leaders known as the "Three Amigos Summit." Of course, there’s an immigration angle: Biden hopes to get buy-in from Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, for his “safe third country” policy for asylum-seekers who enter the US through Mexico. Under the scheme, first floated by the Trump administration in 2019, the US would automatically deny asylum to migrants who haven't applied for the same status first in Mexico. That's a non-starter for AMLO because Mexico can hardly protect foreigners from gang violence while its own citizens are fleeing similar violence from drug cartels, as seen by the bloodbath following the arrest of Ovidio Guzmán, son of "El Chapo.” Biden and AMLO will also discuss the surge of fentanyl flowing into the US from Mexico, with the DEA having seized enough pills last year to kill every single American. Finally, Biden and AMLO, along with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, will attempt to make progress on multiple USMCA trade disputes like GMO corn or rules of origin in the US auto industry.

China opens up, but zero-COVID recovery won’t be immediate

Zero-COVID is now effectively over in China. On Sunday, tens of thousands of people traveled in and out of the mainland as the country finally opened up to the world after almost three years of tough pandemic curbs. As a simple negative COVID test replaced the complicated quarantine requirements put in place by Beijing in early 2020, predictions rolled out for an economic revival in China as well as in those economies that depend on Chinese travelers. But that will take time: Airlines that have shifted their routes away from Beijing will have to pivot back, and certain countries that have put their own restrictions back in place for Chinese travelers over COVID fears will not roll back those policies overnight. Meanwhile, the future of Hong Kong, once Asia’s financial hub, also remains unclear. The megacity has been double-pummeled by COVID restrictions as well as Beijing’s tough national security laws, causing many expat and local talent alike to leave for competitors like Seoul, Singapore, or Tokyo. Now that it’s also open for business and travel, a “new” Hong Kong ruled from Beijing might have to reinvent itself in order to achieve the same economic vibrancy it was famous for.


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