Mexico will vigorously fight U.S. mass deportations of undocumented immigrants back to Mexico and refuse to accept any non-Mexicans expelled across the border, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray vowed Wednesday.
A day after the Trump administration unveiled tough new guidelines for enforcing immigration laws, Videgaray said the treatment of Mexican migrants in the United States would top his country’s agenda when President Enrique Peña Nieto meets Thursday with Secretary of State Rex Tillersonand Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
“I want to make clear, in the most emphatic way, that the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept measures that, in a unilateral way, one government wants to impose on another,” Videgary said.
He added that Mexico would go to the United Nations to defend the rights of its migrants. “We are not going to accept it because we don’t have to accept it and because it is not in the interests of Mexico,” he said.
The Department of Homeland Security said its new directives focus on criminals and those who pose a threat to the U.S., but the provisions expand the authority of federal agents to deport the vast majority of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
Under the new rules, all federal immigration officers can now conduct an “expedited removal” anywhere in the U.S. against people who arrived in the U.S. in the previous two years.
One critical provision, which requires Mexico’s cooperation, allows federal agents to send people back to Mexico, even if they’re not from that country. Many recent arrivals to the U.S. came from Central America, traveling through Mexico.
The latest dispute threatens to further damage already strained U.S.-Mexico relations, which deteriorated as President Trump promised to build a wall along the border wall at Mexico’s expense and to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that he said has unfairly benefited Mexico.
For its part, Mexico has detained and deported more than 300,000 Central Americans since July 2014, when it started an initiative to secure its southern border.
“There’s no package we could put together that would satisfy (Trump’s) inordinate hunger for dumping us,” said Federico Estévez, political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico. He added in jest, “Maybe they could give him the rest of the California Peninsula.”