Senior envoys of U.S. President Donald Trumpare likely to receive a chilly reception in Mexico on Wednesday, after the United States issued new immigration guidelines that deeply angered its southern neighbor the day before bilateral talks.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security unveiled plans on Tuesday to consider almost all illegal immigrants subject to deportation, and will seek to send many of them to Mexico if they entered the United States from there, regardless of their nationality.
The tension over the timing of the rules mirrors an outcry when Trump tweeted that Mexico should pay for his planned border wall shortly before President Enrique Pena Nieto was due at a Washington summit in January.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were due to arrive in Mexico on Wednesday afternoon for talks the White House said would "walk through" the implementation of Trump's immigration orders.
President Donald Trump waves as he steps from Air Force One upon his arrival in West Palm Beach, Florida, February 17. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Mexico's lead negotiator with the Trump administration, Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, said there was no way Mexico would accept the new rules, which among other things seek to deport non-Mexicans to Mexico.
"I want to say clearly and emphatically that the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept provisions that one government unilaterally wants to impose on the other," he told reporters at the Foreign Ministry.
He said the issue would dominate the talks, taking place on Wednesday and Thursday.
"We will not accept it, because there's no reason why we should, and because it is not in the interests of Mexico."
Roberto Campa, who heads the human rights department of the Interior Ministry, said Videgaray was referring to the plan to deport non-Mexicans to Mexico, calling it "hostile" and "unacceptable."
White House spokesman Sean Spicer described U.S.-Mexico ties as healthy and robust and said he expected a "great discussion."
"I think the relationship with Mexico is phenomenal right now," Spicer told reporters.
Homeland Security's guidance to immigration agents is part of a broader border security and immigration enforcement plan in executive orders that the Republican president signed on Jan. 25.
In Guatemala on Wednesday, Kelly told reporters the immigration executive order was aimed at catching undocumented immigrants and returning them to their countries of origin.
Mexico's agenda at the talks on Thursday includes border infrastructure, deportation strategies, Central American migration, narcotics, arms trafficking and terrorism, and the North American Free Trade Agreement, a senior official with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.Try Newsweek: Subscription offers