Top US envoys on a working visit to Mexico have tried to allay fears that Trump administration is preparing to massively deport undocumented migrants back across the border. The reassurances came on Thursday night during a joint press conference by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, following their meeting with Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Videgaray and Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong. “Let me be very very clear, there will be no, repeat no mass deportation. Everything at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be done legally and according to human rights system in the US,” Xinhua news agency quoted Kelly as saying. President Donald Trump’s vow to crack down on undocumented migrants has struck fear into immigrants living in the US. Mexican officials are concerned that massive deportation could lead to a humanitarian crisis along the border.
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Kelly said: “The focus of deportation will be on the criminal element that has made it into the US. All of this will be done, as it always has been, in close coordination with Mexican government.” While there will be “no use of military force” in deportation proceedings, “we will approach this operation systematically, in a results-oriented way, in an operational way, and in a human dignity way”, said the retired Marine Corps general.
Earlier, Trump had described the deportation campaign as “a military operation”. Tillerson said the two countries “reiterated our joint commitment to maintaining law and order along our shared border by stopping the potential terrorist and dismantling the transnational criminal networks moving drugs and people into the US”. The US Secretary of State said officials also discussed trade and energy ties, in addition to fighting cross-border crime, but gave no details.
“We agreed that our two countries should seize the opportunity to modernise and strengthen our trade and energy relationship,” he said. Tillerson noted crime went both ways across the border. “Similarly we underscored the importance of stopping the illegal firearms and bulk cash that is originating in the US and flowing into Mexico. There’s no mistaking that the rule of law matters on both sides of the border,” he said.
Videgaray said: “There is concern and irritation among Mexicans about what are seen as policies that could be harmful for Mexico and abroad.”
“Today (Thursday) we have taken a step in the right direction,” the Mexican minister said, stressing the importance of cooperation. Mexico and the US are already at odds over Trump’s plan to build a wall along their border and his attempts to pressurise Mexico into giving concessions on trade. The US President wanted to renegotiate a two-decade-old agreement signed by Mexico, the US and Canada, claiming it had unfairly benefited Mexico at the expense of US workers.