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For Immediate Release

Press Release

Congress Must Examine Biden Admin Possibly Trading Vaccines For Anti-Migration Enforcement

WASHINGTON -

For attribution to Jeff Hauser, Executive Director of the Revolving Door Project:

The Revolving Door Project is outraged by yesterday’s news that the Biden administration has been pressuring the Mexican government into turning away migrants at the Mexico-Guatemala border. While this Trump-style initiative would be appalling on its own, we are additionally concerned about the possibility that President Biden may have bartered millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to achieve his anti-migration goals. The United States has, as we have argued, a moral responsibility and pragmatic necessity to see the rest of the planet vaccinated as urgently as possible. Further, the US also has a duty to ensure the safety of asylum seekers, who will likely be profoundly affected by this policy. 

The Biden Administration should not be in the business of trading Mexican lives for those of other Central and South Americans, for whom migration to the US is often life-saving. Moreover, because Mexico currently has the third-highest death toll from Covid-19 and Mexican President Obrador faces reelection in June, it is plausible Mexico’s leadership would feel pressured into doing the dirty work of turning away asylum seekers on behalf of the US. 

During yesterday’s press conference, when asked whether President Biden had offered the vaccines to Mexico under the condition that Mexico would increase its actions to prevent migrants from entering the US, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tried to minimize this as a coincidence, stating that there were “several diplomatic conversations — parallel conversations — many layers of conversations” and that she “wouldn’t read into it.” 

Given the high stakes of these issues, and the Biden administration’s clumsy-at-best explanation for the relationship between the vaccine distribution and the migrant deterrence conversation, the Revolving Door Project is calling for Congressional oversight. Congress should determine whether the US is living up to its responsibilities to asylum seekers, rebuilding the US-Mexico relationship undermined by Donald Trump, and acting to ensure the most rapid deployment of vaccines possible across the globe.

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The Revolving Door Project (RDP), a project of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), scrutinizes executive branch appointees to ensure they use their office to serve the broad public interest, rather than to entrench corporate power or seek personal advancement.

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