MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s government is mobilizing to defend undocumented Mexicans living in the United States if President Donald Trump’s administration goes through with threats to round-up and deport migrants en masse, Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said on Monday.
The 50 Mexican consulates operating in the US are looking at “all legal measures” to assist migrants facing deportation, he said during a press conference at the National Palace.
“There are many different legal paths, but I can say – without fear of being mistaken – that we are ready to defend Mexicans effectively throughout the territory of the United States.
If mass roundups of migrants materialize, Ebrard said that he would “go to lead the defense of our compatriots in the United States.”
The secretary paid a visit Sunday to the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles, the Aztec nation’s second-largest diplomatic mission in the US, where staff are already preparing for the possibility of deportations.
Trump first threatened to deport “millions” of undocumented migrants in June, but subsequently postponed the operation.
Last week, on his return from the G-20 summit in Japan, the US president said that the planned roundups would begin sometime after the Fourth of July holiday.
Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has given Ebrard wide discretion to manage the country’s increasingly tricky relations with the US.
The foreign secretary rushed to Washington in early June for emergency talks after Trump gave Mexico an ultimatum to stem the flow of Central American asylum-seekers to the US border or face escalating tariffs on all Mexican imports to the United States.
To avoid the tariffs, Mexico had to agree to deploy security forces on its southern border with Guatemala and to harbor on its territory all of the Central Americans awaiting decisions by US authorities about their applications for asylum.
Mexico continues to uphold the pact amid Trump’s deportation threats, Ebrard stressed, pointing to the now-complete deployment of National Guard forces to the southern border and the opening of 16 shelters on the northern border to house the people seeking asylum in the US.
While in Mexico, the asylum-seekers are allowed to take one of the 3,700 jobs offered to Central Americans by Mexican employers. More than 320 migrants are already employed under the program.
Even as he touted Mexico’s honoring its commitments to the US in terms of stopping migrants, Ebrard reiterated his government’s position that the real solution to the crisis lies in addressing the poverty and violence driving Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans to leave their homelands.
Mexico plans to invest $100 million this year in economic development in those three countries, collectively known as the Northern Triangle.
The Lopez Obrador administration currently has a team in El Salvador to extend to that country a job-creating reforestation initiative already under way in Mexico.
That initiative is also to be expanded to Honduras, Ebrard said.