Rex Tillerson and John Kelly Take on ‘Tough Trip’ to Mexico Amid Strains in Relationship

Homeland Security chief John Kelly (from left), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong spoke with reporters after initial meetings in Mexico City Thursday. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Amid deep strains in the U.S. relationship with Mexico, a country that’s been a favorite target of President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security chief John Kelly took part in talks in Mexico City on Thursday that were aimed at smoothing out tensions.

“That’s going to be a tough trip,” the president said Thursday morning at the White House. Some of the key issues between the two countries: immigration, border security, trade and U.S. aid to Mexico.

In a Feb. 21 executive order, President Trump expanded the category of unauthorized immigrants the U.S. can deport to Mexico, including asylum seekers from other countries. Mexico’s foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, said earlier this week that Mexico “will not accept” the U.S. immigration order.

Speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon, Kelly sought to allay some of Mexico’s concerns, saying twice, “There will be no — repeat, no — mass deportations.” He added, “There will be no use of military force in immigration operations — none.”

Earlier in the day, in Washington, Trump had described deportations as “a military operation.”

Trump’s Feb. 21 executive order also ordered construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall. To help pay for the wall, the president has threatened to slash aid to Mexico, much of which the U.S. delivers via the Merida Initiative, a 10-year-old program whose primary purpose is to deter organized crime and bolster the rule of law.

The wall wasn’t mentioned at Thursday’s press conference.

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NPR
HANNAH BLOCH

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