U.S. officials go to Mexico amidst rising tension
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This past week U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security John Kelly visited various Latin American countries to discuss relations and policies of the new administration. The trip to Mexico topped the bill, where they met with Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and Mexican Secretariat of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong and will meet with others soon.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer argued that both countries regard our relationship as healthy and robust, while President Trump admitted it could be a tough trip due to his tough stance on Mexico and our treatment from them. The President then called it a “military operation” as border officials caught drug lords and gangbangers “for the first time.” These comments combined with staunchly denied allegations of President Trump mobilizing the National Guard for the border created confusion and fear for many in Mexico and the U.S. according to CNN.
Press Secretary Spicer clarified the contradiction between the President and Secretary Kelly, claiming the President used the word “military” figuratively, meaning something closer to “precision.”
In a joint news conference, Videgaray expressed that he and others feared for the human rights of Mexicans living in the United States, and denied any chance that the U.S. would have of deporting all illegal immigrants to Mexico regardless of home country. He threatened to alert the United Nations if the latter occurs.
Videgaray ended his speech with announcing an unspecified summit about immigration among North American countries including Canada and Latin American countries as reported by The Independent.
Secretary Tillerson spoke to soften relations, saying that “two strong sovereign nations will have differences from time to time.” Following the Secretary, Secretary Kelly of Homeland Security distanced actual policy from many of the President’s comments, wholeheartedly refuting the claim that there is any military involved on the border.
Secretary Kelly also denied fundamental changes to American immigration policy and the use of mass deportations. He emphasized focusing on criminal offenders that are also undocumented immigrants, and that U.S. law prevented many people’s fears.
Both Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Kelly vaguely called for revamped trade between the two countries, but neither mentioned the President’s pejorative stance on the current trade deal, NAFTA according to NPR. While a nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found the deal to affect far less than either critics or supporters predicted, the President has consistently decried the deal and called for a termination. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin considers changes to NAFTA unlikely, but if the President follows through with his words many fear it could lead to the loss of millions of jobs or a Mexican recession.
They also visited Guatemala, where they visited Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, and Secretary Kelly said Trump gave him the direct operative to “reestablish control of the U.S. southern border” by means of a “physical barrier” and intelligence work. There he reiterated his message that neither mass deportations nor military personnel would be used to achieve their goals.