Only hours before a two-day visit to Mexico by the U.S. secretary of state and head of the Homeland Security, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Wednesday that Mexico "will not accept" the unilateral imposition of U.S. immigration proposals, according to media reports.
The foreign minister also said he would not hesitate to take the issue to the United Nations to defend what he called the rights of immigrants, Reuters reports.
His comments followed the release of new directives by the Department of Homeland Security aimed at increasing deportations among the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Under the new guidelines, all federal immigration officers can now conduct an "expedited removal" anywhere in the U.S. against people who arrived in the U.S. in the previous two years.
One critical part of the new directives, which would require Mexican cooperation, says federal immigration officials can send those undocumented immigrants back to Mexico, even if they're not from there.
Many of the undocumented immigrants in recent years have come from Central America and travelled through Mexico to reach the U.S. border.
Videgaray said the new U.S. proposals would be the main focus of talks Wednesday and Thursday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of DHS John Kelly.
“I want to make it clear in the most emphatic way that the government of Mexico and the people of Mexico do not have to accept provisions that one government wants to unilaterally impose on another,” Videgaray said, according to Univision. “We will not accept that because we have no reason to; it is not in the interest of the Mexico.”
The immigration issue has caused increasing strain between Mexico and the U.S., particularly over President Trump's pledge to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it. The fallout over the issue led Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to cancel a trip to the U.S. recently.
In Washington, White House spokesman Sean Spicer, in response to question about immigration, was asked Wednesday Tillerson and Kelly were on a cleanup mission with Mexico.
“I would argue that we have a very healthy and robust relationship with the Mexican government and Mexican officials," Spicer said. "I think they would echo that same sentiment. I think the relationship with Mexico is phenomenal right now. I believe there’s an unbelievable and robust dialogue between our two nations.”
nder the Obama administration, a process known as an "expedited removal" was used mostly along the southwest border. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrols agents were able to quickly deport undocumented immigrants caught within 100 miles of the border who had arrived in the U.S. in the previous two weeks.
Most undocumented immigrants caught entering the country have been placed in detention or released on bond while their deportation cases proceeded. That practice, dubbed "catch and release," led to many undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. and skipping out on their court cases.
Under the new guidelines, people caught entering the country will be placed in jail while their deportation cases are processed. Homeland Security plans to hire 10,000 ICE agents and build new detention facilities along the southwest border, and more immigration judges and staff will be hired to speed up cases.