It is little wonder President Donald Trump predicts a "tough" meeting between his State Department and the Mexican government on Thursday after the Mexican foreign secretary threatened to to take legal action, potentially appealing to the United Nations, against the United States' "unilateral" deportation efforts.
"I want to make clear, in the most emphatic way, that the government of Mexico and the people of Mexico will not accept decisions that, in a unilateral way, are imposed by another government," Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told reporters in Mexico City late Wednesday.
"We are not going to accept that because we do not have to do it and it is not in Mexico's interests," he added, saying that the country would use "all legally possible means" to defend Mexican-nationals living abroad, including—if necessary—appealing to the United Nations.
Videgaray and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto are scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly on Thursday to discuss trade, aid, and the sweeping and controversial deportation guidelines issued by the Trump administration earlier this week.
One of the new directives stipulates that "immigrants entitled to a court appearance would no longer be released into the United States to await their hearing date. If they couldn't be deported to their home country, many would be sent to wait in Mexico," McClatchy explained. But Mexican officials say the expectation that their country "would take U.S. detainees without serious bilateral talks is step too far."
"That's gonna be a tough trip," Trump quipped Thursday. Indeed, the recently-inaugurated U.S. president has already shredded relations with his southern neighbor.
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Trump's repeated insistence that Mexico would pay for his new border wall prompted Peña Nieto to cancel his planned meeting last month. Further, his classification of Mexicans as "bad hombres" and "criminals" sparked widespread protests across Mexico earlier this month.
And observers say those relations are likely to get even worse.
Buried amid DHS' fierce deportation guidelines is a note that the president "has directed the heads of all executive departments to identify and quantify all sources of direct and indirect Federal aid or assistance to the Government of Mexico," which Bloomberg national political reporter Sahil Kapur speculated could be used as "leverage to demand wall $$$."
The New York Times reported Tuesday:
By Friday, American officials are required to finish calculating all the money and grants that the United States provides to Mexico, a task that Mr. Trump first demanded in the executive order he signed last month directing the construction of a border wall.
The Trump administration, which set the Friday deadline in an internal State Department memo this month, has not explicitly said why it ordered the review. But its inclusion in the executive order mandating that a wall be built suggests that Mr. Trump has linked the two issues—and may be looking for more leverage in negotiations with Mexico.
Anticipating acrimony, Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations committee on Wednesday sent a letter to Kelly and Tillerson blasting Trump's "damaging" commentary as well as the border wall "gimmick," and urged the officials to "take advantage of your visit to affirm that strategic importance of the U.S.-Mexico partnership."