There will be no mass deportations of illegal immigrants by the United States, said that country’s Homeland Security Secretary today after meeting with Mexican government officials.
John Kelly made the assurance during a press conference at which Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong said the federal government expressed its disagreement with policies that would lead to an increase in deportations and citizens of other countries being deported to Mexico.
Mexican officials have been alarmed this week over the consequences of a new order by U.S. President Donald Trump to round up and deport illegal immigrants.
Kelly and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Mexico yesterday for a meeting that the Trump administration has called a step toward mutual understanding.
The U.S. officials met with Osorio Chong, Finance Secretary José Antonio Meade and Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray, who conceded that while there are differences between the two nations both will work together on behalf of their citizens.
He forecast a long road ahead to build accords with the U.S. but said they took a step in the right direction today.
The Foreign Affairs Secretary said Tillerson and Kelly were advised that a major concern for Mexico is the rights of Mexicans in the U.S., their “human rights in particular.”
Tillerson highlighted the need to strengthen efforts to combat arms trafficking and shut down the networks that transport drugs and people. Both he and Videgaray referred to the importance of attending to the causes of migration from Central America, particularly Guatemala and Honduras.
Tillerson said energy, security and education were also discussed today.
A key concern for Mexico this week has been the deportation to Mexico of citizens of other countries, notably those of Central America, which arose after Kelly signed a memorandum last week that said illegal immigrants would be deported to the country from which they entered the U.S.
The policy measure drew a sharp rebuke yesterday from Videgaray who described it as a unilateral action that was unprecedented and unacceptable.
But during a visit yesterday in Guatemala Kelly contradicted that position and said undocumented immigrants would be treated in a “humane” manner and returned to their home countries.
Videgaray also warned yesterday that Mexico would not hesitate to denounce the U.S. before the United Nations if decrees issued by Trump against immigrants violated international law.
Kelly said today that deportations will be conducted lawfully and with respect for the rights of deportees.
“The focus will be on people with criminal records and everything will be done as always, with close collaboration with the government of Mexico,” he said.
“We have to ensure that fewer migrants make that dangerous journey to the United States . . . We will work hand in hand with our Mexican brothers.”
Kelly also emphasized there would be no military force used in immigration operations.
As he made that statement his boss was describing the crackdown on illegal immigrants as a military one.
Trump said in Washington that “all of the sudden for the first time we’re getting gang members out, we’re getting drug lords out, we’re getting really bad dudes out of this country” through a “military operation.” He said Kelly has been “unbelievable at the border.”
However, both the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, which operates under Kelly’s Department of Homeland Security, and the Border Patrol are not military but civilian organizations.