A file photo of the annual migrants' caravan. A file photo of the annual migrants' caravan.

‘We don’t encourage illegal immigration’

Mexico responds to Trump's tweets, sparked by a large caravan of migrants

The Mexican government has strongly rejected United States President Donald Trump’s accusations that it does little to stop illegal migration on its southern and northern borders.

In a joint statement issued yesterday, the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) and the Secretariat of the Interior (Segob) asserted that “under no circumstances does the government of Mexico promote irregular migration.”

The press release came after two days of tweets from the U.S. president in which he criticized Mexico’s efforts to curb illegal migration, threatened to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if it did not “stop the big drug and people flows” and railed against a migrant “caravan” currently traveling through the country.

The statement reiterated Mexico’s commitment to cooperate on migration issues but stressed that “migration policy is decided in a sovereign manner . . . that seeks to ensure that migration occurs in a legal, safe and orderly manner with full respect for people’s rights.”

It also stated that the federal government considers the migrant “caravan” made up of more than 1,000 Central American migrants “a public protest that seeks to draw attention to the migration phenomenon and the importance of respect for Central American migrants’ rights.”

The caravan, called “The Migrant’s Way of the Cross,” is part of an annual Easter campaign organized since 2010 by the migrant advocacy group Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders). This year’s caravan has attracted a larger number of participants than it has in past years.

In another Twitter post this morning, Trump wrote “the big caravan of people from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ border, had better be stopped before it gets there.”

In the same tweet, he reiterated that “cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen.”

He previously charged that “Mexico has the absolute power not to let these large ‘Caravans’ of people enter their country.”

In yesterday’s statement, the government said the caravan is mainly made up of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, adding that about 400 have already been “repatriated to their countries of origin with strict adherence to the legal framework” because they didn’t enter Mexico lawfully.

Some of the migrants are expected to arrive at the Mexico-United States border in about three weeks where, according to a Pueblo Sin Fronteras project coordinator, they will seek asylum at legal entry points.

Other members of the contingent are expected to seek legal protection in Mexico. Refuge has already been offered to some migrants.

The SRE/Segob statement also made it clear that the government does not sanction entering the United States, or any other country, without going through official channels.

“. . . In accordance with Article 47 of the Migration Law, all nationals and foreigners who decide to leave Mexico’s national territory must do so exclusively at the places designated for the international transit of people and they are obliged to comply with the requirements for their entry, stipulated by the country they intend to enter,” it said.

For migrants hoping to enter the United States, the statement added that Mexico would not seek to intervene in any way in the process to decide if entry is granted.

“. . . It is not up to this government to make immigration decisions for the United States or any other nation, it will be the appropriate United States authorities who decide . . . to authorize or not authorize entry to their territory to members of the caravan who seek [to enter] through authorized entry and exit points.”

In addition, the statement said that, as in previous years, Mexican authorities have kept the United States fully informed through its embassy in Mexico City about the progress of the caravan.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida said that “it’s completely inaccurate to say that there is no effort from Mexico to regulate, support [and] manage migration processes.”

In Mexico City, President Enrique Peña Nieto responded to Trump’s most recent threats to pull out of NAFTA by saying that he hoped that a spirit of “mutual respect and cordiality” could be maintained to reach an agreement that “benefits the development of the three [NAFTA] countries . . .”

Source: Milenio (sp)

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