US, Mexico at odds over deportation amid first Tillerson, Kelly visit
by Associated Press
MEXICO CITYFeb 24, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Associated Press
Feb 24, 2017 12:00 am
Mexico's mounting unease and resentment over President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown loomed over a gathering of U.S. and Mexican leaders that the U.S. had hoped would project a strong future for relations between neighbors.
There is no shortage of tension points as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met Thursday with top Mexican officials. After all, it's Kelly who's tasked with executing Trump's plan to target millions for possible deportation, and Tillerson who must explain it to the rest of the world. As the pair arrived in Mexico City, the two countries seemed much farther apart than their close geographical proximity would suggest.
"I think Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Kelly are going to have a great discussion down there," said White House press secretary Sean Spicer. He called the relationship "phenomenal."
The worsening rift over deportations and illegal immigration adds to an array of disputes that have sent U.S.-Mexico relations plunging since Trump took office a month ago. Trump's insistence that Mexico pay billions for a border wall led Pena Nieto to cancel a planned Washington visit. Mexican officials are also apprehensive over Trump's pledge to overhaul the trade relationship and possible apply steep taxes to Mexican products, a move with profound impacts for Mexico's export-heavy economy.
New immigration enforcement memos signed by Kelly this week call for sending send some immigrants who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally back into Mexico — even those from third countries who have no connection to Mexico. The memos also prioritize deportation for anyone charged or convicted of any crime, rather than just serious crimes, potentially subjecting millions in the U.S. illegally to deportation, including many Mexicans.
Those policies have raised fears in Mexico about the possibility of deportee and refugee camps emerging along Mexico's northern border. Mexican officials are also likely to seek answers about whether a forthcoming report ordered by Trump's administration that will list all current U.S. aid to Mexico is intended to threaten Mexico into compliance over immigration or the wall.