The Biden administration will not consider Mexico's request that the United States distribute coronavirus vaccines to its southern neighbor, the White House said Monday.
"The president has made clear that he is focused on ensuring that vaccines are accessible to every American. That is our focus," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said ahead of a scheduled virtual meeting between President Joe Biden and Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador. "Once we accomplish that objective, we're happy to discuss further steps beyond that."
López Obrador planned to ask that the United States "loan" its coronavirus vaccines during the Monday meeting, according to Reuters. In remarks following the call, the Mexican president said he had not secured a vaccine agreement but noted that "teams from both countries are going to explore all possibilities for cooperation in this area." A joint U.S.-Mexico declaration, which was issued after the meeting, makes no mention of vaccine distribution between the two countries.
Psaki said the Monday meeting would affirm a partnership "based on mutual respect and the extraordinary bond of family and friendship." In the week leading up to the call, however, López Obrador criticized the United States' pandemic response and accused "rich countries" of "hoarding" coronavirus vaccines, saying "the U.N. has to intervene." The Mexican president also demanded that the United States vaccinate all Mexican illegal immigrants residing in the country.
Mexico has obtained roughly 3.3 million doses from China, Russia, India, and the European Union for its 126 million residents, according to the Wall Street Journal.
During the meeting, López Obrador was also expected to propose a plan that would permit up to 800,000 Mexican and Central American immigrants into the United States each year. Biden has made loosening immigration restrictions a priority for his administration, frozen many deportations, and halted funding for the southern border wall. Biden and López Obrador committed to developing "legal pathways for migration" in their joint statement Monday.