Mexico vows to ‘bring order on migration’ to appease Trump

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Mexico vows to ‘bring order on migration’ to appease Trump


Pressure on Mexico: US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on the South Lawn of the White House
Pressure on Mexico: US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on the South Lawn of the White House

Mexico will help to regulate the flow of Central American migrants passing through its territory to the United States, but the root causes behind the phenomenon must be tackled, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said yesterday.

Speaking after US President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to close the US southern border if Mexico did not halt illegal immigration immediately, Mr López Obrador said he would not have a confrontation with the United States.



‘Love and peace’: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador‘Love and peace’: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador

‘Love and peace’: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador

“I prefer love and peace,” Mr López Obrador told reporters at his regular morning news conference.

Most of the people caught at the frontier trying to enter the United States illegally come from three violent and impoverished countries: Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Mr López Obrador has tried to persuade Mr Trump to address the problem by fostering economic development in Central America.

But on Saturday, the US State Department said it was cutting off aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Detentions at the US border have surged in recent months, angering Mr Trump and putting pressure on Mr López Obrador to find a solution that will prevent a shutdown of the frontier to the market for 80pc of Mexico’s exports.

Asked if it was time to put pressure on the Central American countries to do more to tackle the problem, Mr López Obrador said the causes of migration were “not being attended to” and that people needed to be offered more opportunities there.

“Obviously, we have to help because Central American migrants pass through our territory and we have to bring order to this migration, make sure it’s legal,” Mr López Obrador said.

“That’s what we’re doing. But serenely, calmly, without a commotion and with great prudence and responsibility.”

US Customs and Border Patrol projections are for more than 90,000 apprehensions at the border during March, according to data provided to the Mexican government – a more than 140pc increase from March 2018, and a seven-fold jump from 2017.

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was working with the Central American governments and Mexico to “solve this problem at the border”, and pointed to the numbers when asked why Mr Trump had toughened his stance.

“Just look at the math,” Mr Pompeo told reporters outside the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

“How many folks are coming across. This is a crisis. We need to fix it.”

Mr Trump’s threat to shut the US border if Mexico does not halt all illegal immigration has exposed the limitations of the new Mexican government’s strategy of trying to appease the US president as he gears up for re-election.

Mr Trump on Friday said he would close the 3,200-km frontier, or sections of it, during the coming week if Mexico did not halt the flow of people.

Casting the government under leftist Mr López Obrador as the villain in his struggle to curb illegal immigration to the US, Mr Trump returned to a signature theme of his 2015-2016 presidential election bid.

His words were a slap in the face to Mr López Obrador, who has refused to answer back to provocative comments from Mr Trump.

However, for former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda, Mexico faces “incredibly damaging” consequences if Mr Trump does order “go-slows” at the border, which would pitch Mr López Obrador into uncomfortable new territory.

“He’s totally unfamiliar with international affairs. He’d prefer not to have to worry about these things,” Mr Castaneda said, noting that the US president had tested many governments.

“Nobody’s been able to find a way to manage Trump. It’s a mess.”

To keep the border open, Mexican business leaders say they are leaning on US partners to pressure Congress.

A shutdown would be “very negative for both countries,” said deputy Mexican economy minister Luz Maria de la Mora.

“I think the US administration and the advisers in the White House know it’s not a good idea,” she told Reuters.

But if push came to shove, Mexico would suffer most, said Mr Castaneda.

“The Americans have a much greater capacity… to outlast the Mexicans,” he said. “For Mexicans it’s a life or death issue. For Americans it’s a pain in the ass, but that’s it.”

Irish Independent

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