October 22, 2018

Mexico Underlines Sovereignty Amid Tweets on Migrant Caravan

Officials from both countries denied Trump had any influence on Mexico's immigration policy.

Central American Security conference Still image from a Department of State video including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, with leaders from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador at the second Conference for Prosperity and Security in Central America, Oct. 11, 2018.

Top U.S. and Mexico officials denied on Friday morning that President Donald Trump has influenced Mexico’s immigration enforcement practices, as Mexico took unprecedented measures to stop a U.S.-bound caravan of Honduran migrants Trump focused on this week.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Mexico City shortly after Mexico dramatically increased its police presence on its southern border and sent its ambassador in Guatemala to meet with the group of Honduran migrants before they reached the Guatemala-Mexico border.

Pompeo, in a press conference, stressed a basic fact about Mexico.

"Mexico will make its decision," Pompeo said. “Its leaders and its people will decide the best way to achieve what I believe are our shared objectives."

Pompeo's counterpart, Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray, had a similar message.

"We are a sovereign country," Videgaray said. "The migratory policy of Mexico is defined by Mexico."

Mexico is reacting to pressure from the U.S, and the diplomats were seeking to soften that, says Duncan Wood, head of the Mexico Institute, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C.

"The Mexican government is obviously trying to defend its own reputation," Wood said. "The U.S. government doesn't want to be seen embarrassing its Mexican friends in this way."

Mexico has deported more than half a million migrants to Central America as part of the Southern Border Plan, a U.S. backed immigration enforcement program that started in 2014.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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