Mexico: We’ll Go to the U.N. to Defend ‘Human Rights’ of Mexicans in U.S.

Susan Jones | February 24, 2017 | 4:27am EST
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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, center, holds discussions with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray, right, in Mexico City on Thursday, February 23, 2017. At left is Mexican Finance Secretary José Antonio Meade Kuribreña. (Photo: Foreign Ministry of Mexico)

( – Mexico’s foreign minister says his government will seek the intervention of the United Nations if necessary to defend the human rights of its citizens caught up in the Trump administration’s tough new approach to illegal immigration.

Speaking on the eve of Thursday’s meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray said at a meeting with officials from the U.N. human rights office that Mexico “does not have to accept provisions that one government wants unilaterally to impose on another.”

“The government of Mexico will act by all means legally possible to defend the human rights of Mexicans abroad, particularly in the United States,” he said.

“The government will not hesitate to go to international organizations beginning with the United Nations to defend, in accordance with international law, human rights, freedoms and due process in favor of Mexicans abroad,” Videgaray added.

The foreign minister was speaking at the signing of an agreement of cooperation between Mexico and the office of U.N. human rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Zeid himself was not present, but in a video message from Geneva voiced concern about and support for illegal migrants – or what he called migrants in “irregular situations.”

“We are witnessing a very dangerous trend not only on the American continent but also in other parts of the world,” he said. “Migrants are increasingly scapegoated, and those in irregular situations are being criminalized, detained and deported, often without due process.”

“Families are being torn apart,” he continued. “Ever higher barriers to entry are being put in place to deter migrants, but we know that this only forces them into using more dangerous channels, putting their lives at an even greater risk.”

Zeid said the U.N. rights office was deeply concerned about the trend, “particularly as it is transformed from mere rhetoric into actual policy.”

Tillerson and Kelly’s meetings in Mexico City with their counterparts, Videgaray and Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, came amid tensions between the neighbors over the immigration clampdown.

“We have expressed our concern about respect for the rights of Mexicans in the United States and the legal impossibility of one government making decisions that affect the other in a unilateral manner,” Videgaray said in a communique after the meetings.

It said the interlocutors had agreed that the two governments had a shared responsibility to confront the issue, “with an approach that is not limited to migratory control, but that addresses the true causes of this phenomenon as the development and stability of the region and Central America.”

The reference to Central America likely relates to a specific provision in a memorandum by Kelly this week indicating that the U.S. may deport to Mexico citizens of other countries who had reached the U.S. by crossing Mexican territory.

The DHS said aliens could be returned “to the foreign contiguous territory from which they arrived,” as doing so would free up DHS detention and adjudication resources for other priority aliens.

“We will work with the countries involved to ensure proper coordination on the safe and humane return of their nationals,” an accompanying Q&A factsheet added.

In a statement on their talks in Mexico City, Tillerson and Kelly alluded to disagreements between the sides.

“In our meetings, we jointly acknowledged that, in a relationship filled with vibrant colors, two strong sovereign countries from time to time will have differences,” they said. “We listened closely and carefully to each other as we respectfully and patiently raised our respective concerns.”

“We recognized the existing U.S.-Mexican cooperation to curtail irregular migration, both by securing Mexico’s southern border and by supporting efforts of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador – through the Alliance for Prosperity and working with organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank – to reduce violence and stimulate economic opportunity in the region,” Tillerson and Kelly added.

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