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US, Mexico at Odds Over Deportation    02/23 06:13

   Mexico's mounting unease and resentment over President Donald Trump's 
immigration crackdown are looming over a gathering of U.S. and Mexican leaders 
that the U.S. had hoped would project a strong future for relations between 
neighbors.

   MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexico's mounting unease and resentment over President 
Donald Trump's immigration crackdown are looming 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 meet 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."

   But while Spicer said the officials would "talk through the implementation 
of the executive order," Mexico made clear it intended to do nothing of the 
sort.

   "I want to say clearly and most emphatically that the Mexican government and 
the Mexican people have no reason to accept unilateral decisions imposed by one 
government on another," said Mexico's foreign relations secretary, Luis 
Videgaray. "We are not going to accept that, because we don't have to."

   Videgaray added a cryptic but pointed warning that Mexico wouldn't hesitate 
to challenge the U.S. move at the United Nations or other global venues.

   The visiting Americans planned to meet Thursday with Videgaray before a 
working lunch with Mexican officials and a formal meeting with Mexican 
President Enrique Pena Nieto.

   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.

   Dismayed by the deteriorating relations, six Democratic senators urged 
Tillerson and Kelly to strike a more cooperative tone than Trump.

   "We urge you to use your visit to disavow vitriolic rhetoric and forge a 
strong partnership based on mutual respect with the government of Mexico," the 
senators wrote in an open letter to be released Thursday.

   Kelly arrived in the Mexican capital from Guatemala on a visit intended to 
deter Guatemalans from trying to enter the U.S. illegally. Though Kelly 
promised "there will be no mass roundups," he acknowledged that those caught 
will be removed from the U.S. much more quickly than in the past.

   "My best advice is to not do it," he said.


(KA)

 
 
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