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.