The Mexican Senate demanded President Enrique Peña Nieto suspend cooperation efforts for security and migration with the United States over President Donald Trump's order calling for the deployment of the National Guard along the border.
In a session with no recent precedent, all senators voted unanimously in favor of a declaration rejecting Trump's decision to send the National Guard to the border with Mexico, and demanded the U.S. authorities stop their offensive and aggressive attitude towards their southern neighbor so they can “effectively face the common challenges and generate more and better opportunities for prosperity and development” of both countries' peoples.
The declaration asks the Mexican Ministry of Interior to suspend the bilateral cooperation regarding migration and the fight against organized crime “while President Donald Trump doesn't act with civility and respect that the people of Mexico deserve.”
The president of the senate's foreign affairs office, Laura Angelica Rojas, said that Mexico and the U.S. are “deeply related by social and political links, as well as economic integration.” She mentioned the more than 3,000 kilometers of shared border, the 58 crossing points through which about 1 million people legally cross every day.
Rojas described Trump's decision as disrespectful, insulting, based on prejudices and misinformation with frequent use of threats and tricks, jeopardizing all the efforts done jointly by both nations.
Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said he held talks with Kirstjen Nielsen, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, to clarify the aim of the operation, saying that Mexico will “act in a sovereign way in defense of the nation's interest.”
According to a press release by Mexico's Foreign Ministry, Washington assured the deployed troops won't be armed or carry immigration or custom duties, but will instead only assist the Department of Homeland Security and compared the action to Bush's 2006 Operation Jump Start and Obama's 2010 Operation Phalanx.
In both operations, about 30,000 members of the National Guard were deployed along the border with similar aims. “The Mexican government has stated to the U.S. government that if the announced deployment of the National Guard results in the militarization of the border, it would seriously damage the bilateral relationship,” says the press release.
It also reiterates the “fundamental importance of respecting the dignity and human rights of the Mexicans in the United States." Mexico's presidential candidates also commented on the recent developments, making the most of Trump's comments for their own campaigns.
Jose Antonio Meade, from the ruling party, called on all candidates to “join in defense of sovereignty and national dignity.” Ricardo Anaya, the second favorite in most polls, said that Trump's “hostile act” required “a quick and energetic answer.”
The center-left candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is leading all polls with a wide advantage, said his coalition didn't accept “the use of force or militarization of the border,” since “problems are not solved that way.”
'Migrant's Way of the Cross' Caravan
Meanwhile, the caravan of Central American immigrants aiming to reach the United States seeking asylum and refugee status decided to stop halfway their journey due to pressure from both the U.S. and Mexican authorities, announcing a change in their strategy.
“We will reach Puebla in different buses. Then every migrant will be informed of the legal options they have and the difficulties to get a refugee status in the United States, which could mean up to a year in a jail-like situation until everything is solved,” Rodrigo Abeja, one of the caravan's organizers, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
The caravan, called “the Migrant's Way of the Cross,” temporarily stopped in the southern state of Oaxaca, where some of its members asked the government for transit visas.
The Mexican government denied they had been influenced by Trump's threats of cutting aid and his decision to send the National Guard to the border, and declared the Caravan had stopped by its own choice.
It also declared that 465 migrants had requested transit visas, of which 230 had obtained it while 168 would get another type of visa so they can stay in the country.
A smaller caravan is expected to continue its way to the border, mostly composed of women and children, while others may remain in Mexico and apply for a refugee status there.
Most of the migrants joined the caravan in hope of reaching the U.S. and escaping from violence plaguing their own countries.