Mexico is pushing back against the Trump administration’s new immigration directives that could have dramatic implications for the United States’ southern neighbor, as top US officials come to visit the country. On Tuesday, the Trump administration issued guidance on deportations that could apply to every undocumented immigrant in the US and enable state and local law enforcement to act as immigration officers.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who expressed respect for Mexico in his Senate confirmation hearing and who met with Videgaray on February 2, his first day on the job, will build on that initial conversation, a State Department official said.
“We expect the visit to be forward-looking and to discuss ways to strengthen our cooperation in order to advance the security and economic well-being of our two peoples,” the official said.
When asked about the tensions between Mexico and the US, the State Department official responded, “We have a long history of cooperation,” and referred to a phone call between Trump and Pena Nieto.
Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said his country is worried about recent actions that could greatly expand US deportations of undocumented immigrants, including sending non-Mexicans to Mexico.
“I want to make it clear, in the most emphatic way, that the Mexican government and the people of Mexico do not have to accept measures unilaterally imposed on a government by another government,” he said.
He spoke just hours before Tillerson and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly arrived in Mexico for meetings on security, immigration, trade and the border with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and other officials, the bulk of which take place on Thursday.
President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies have cranked up the tension in US-Mexico relations to a high not seen in decades, blaming the country for sending rapists into the US, castigated undocumented immigrants from across the border and blasted Mexico for what he says are unfair trade practices. One of Trump’s first actions as president was to order the construction of a border wall that he insists Mexico will pay for, despite the country’s repeated refusals.
Another change to asylum procedures would make it easier for immigration officers to send non-Mexican migrants to Mexico if they came through the country on their way to the US, which could potentially send tens of thousands of Central Americans fleeing violence, gangs and drug cartels back into Mexico, an issue Kelly and Tillerson will almost certainly have to address.