16 | SEP | 2019
Mexico-U.S. meeting: migrant flows and arms smuggling
The meeting took place after the 90 days set by the US for Mexico to curb a recent surge in Central American migrant flows – Photo: Taken from Vice President Mike Pence’s Twitter account

Mexico-U.S. meeting: migrant flows and arms smuggling

10/09/2019
18:53
Newsroom & Agencies
Mexico City
Dave Graham, Anthony Esposito, Alexandra Alper & Tom Brown/REUTERS & Víctor Sancho/EL UNIVERSAL
-A +A
In Washington, the U.S. reviewed Mexican progress on curbing illegal migration, while Mexico focused on pressing the U.S. to halt arms smuggling across the border

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Mexico said it would press the United States to halt arms smuggling across its border with Mexico at a pivotal meeting in Washington on Tuesday called to review progress in efforts to curb a recent surge in Central American migrant flows.

On June 7, following threats by U.S. President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on all its goods, Mexico pledged to take a series of steps to contain migrants, and the two governments agreed to review that effort after 90 days.

On Tuesday afternoon, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard led the delegation meeting U.S. officials in Washington. He said on Twitter that while the Trump administration would focus on migration in the talks, curbing illicit arms flows would be Mexico’s priority.

The meeting was led on the U.S. side by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior adviser, US ambassador in Mexico, Christopher Landau, and others according to a White House official. On the Mexican side were Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, Migration Commissioner, Francisco Garduño, as well as the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Roberto Velasco.

Successive Mexican governments have argued that illicit arms sales and gun-running from the United States into Mexico have fueled turf wars between drug gangs and clashes with security forces, exacerbating social problems and adding to migratory pressures.
 

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More than 200,000 people have been killed in gang-fueled violence, and over 40,000 have disappeared since former President Felipe Calderón sent in the armed forces to tackle Mexico’s powerful drug cartels at the end of 2006.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a leftist who took office in December, has vowed to end the lawlessness, but 2019 is on track to be the country’s most violent year on record.
 

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Mexico deployed thousands of security forces to its borders in response to Trump’s tariff threat and has taken in more migrants while their asylum claims are processed in U.S. courts.

This month, Trump and U.S. officials have praised Mexico and Central American countries for helping cut U.S. border arrests by nearly 60% from earlier this year. But the issue remains fraught in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Trump campaigned for office in 2015-16 pledging to halt the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs from Mexico. The Mexican government has persistently argued that disputes over U.S.-Mexico border security are a shared responsibility.

López Obrador has been at pains to avoid antagonizing Trump over trade and migration, mindful of the fact that Mexico sends around 80% of its exports to the United States.

Still, his government has sought to draw some of the focus in bilateral relations away from migration by putting pressure on Washington to do more to tackle racially-motivated violence like the mass shooting in El Paso early in August.
 

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Eight Mexican citizens were killed in the attack in the U.S. border city, and last month Ebrard urged the United States to declare the attack an act of terrorism against Mexicans.

Marcelo Ebrard said that today’s meeting with Vice President Mike Pence was on “friendly terms” and Mexico posed that its strategy to stem irregular migrant flow “is working”, is “successful,” and that its downward trend is “irreversible.”

Ebrard highlighted that regarding migration issues, Mexico posed “respect” and that the Mexican strategy “has shown great results so that migrants flow be according to the law and, thus, there has been a significant decrease.
 

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McAleenan posed the possibility of a third safe country agreement, to which Ebrard responded that Mexico is “almost at 90% of the main objective” in the reduction of irregular migrants flows, so Mexico does not consider a deal necessary.

In addition, Ebrard highlighted that, besides migration issues, he also defended the need for the U.S. to control illegal weapons flow from that country to Mexico.

In that regard, he talked about the creation of a binational group that will do a monthly evaluation of how many weapons from the U.S. entered Mexico illegally and how they did so.

He denied that the meeting with the U.S. has resumed the threat of tariffs to Mexican exports.

Asked about his brief greeting with Trump, Ebrard Casaubón asserted that the U.S. President was “kind, positive, and grateful to Mexico” for the effort being made to stem irregular migration.

The White House issued a release about the meeting, which took place after the 90 days set by the U.S. so that Mexico reduced migrant flows under threats on tariffs.

In the document, Mike Pence recognized the “significant and unprecedented steps” Mexico has given to “halt illegal migration flows to the border with the United States,” and lauded the deploy of the National Guard.
 

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He added that “leaders agreed that although there had been advances, there is still work left to do to further reduce undocumented migrant flow to the United States.”

Likewise, he says that both parts agreed “to implement the Migrants Protection Protocol to the utmost extent.” Said protocol means that migrants who request asylum in the U.S. need to wait in Mexico while their procedures are solved.

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