Luis Videgaray, Mexico’s foreign minister, was responding to Donald Trump’s plans to enforce immigration rules more vigorously against undocumented migrants, which could lead to mass deportations to Mexico, not just of Mexicans but also citizens of other Latin American countries.
“We are not going to accept it because we don’t have to accept it,” Videgaray said, according to the Reforma newspaper. “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 one government wants to unilaterally impose on another.”
Tens of thousands of migrants – mostly from Central America, but increasingly from further afield – transit Mexico annually in attempts to reach the US border. Mexico has turned enforcer, imposing the Southern Border Plan in 2014 to detain and deport migrants transiting Mexican territory, even as it doggedly defends its own nationals at risk of deportation in the United States.
In recent interviews, the economy minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, has raised the possibility of Mexico suspending cooperation on migrant enforcement. He told the news channel Milenio: “There would be no incentive to continue collaborating on important issues for North American security such as migration issues” if Nafta were abandoned.
Brandon Capece, a research fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, said the state of bilateral relations was at its lowest point since the 1980s, when the two countries were locked in ideological differences over foreign policy and before the signing of Nafta in 1994 made them economic partners, with more than $1.5bn in trade crossing the border each day.
“Even renegotiating Nafta is something that can be mutually beneficial for all three nations involved, but only if Trump can move beyond his misperceived notion that the United States is somehow the victim in this relationship,” Capece said. “That being said, given the failure of the Trump administration to articulate a clear foreign policy and their reluctance to rely on experts within the Washington foreign policy establishment, it is unlikely that this trip in and of itself will calm nerves in either Washington or Mexico City.”
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