FELICIA SCHWARTZ, JOSÉ DE CÓRDOBA and ROBBIE WHELAN write in the WSJ:
“MEXICO CITY—Top Trump administration officials tried Thursday to soften the message on expanded U.S. immigration-enforcement efforts during talks here, but Mexican officials signaled little progress had been made in bridging differences that threaten to further fray ties between the two countries.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly faced a skeptical Mexican government as they sought to explain Washington’s decision to step up the enforcement of immigration laws, outlining policies to enlist local authorities in the U.S. to jail and deport more people and to send detainees back to Mexico—even if they aren’t Mexican.
Meanwhile in Washington, President Donald Trump made comments that seemed to sharpen the tone.
“All of a sudden for the first time we’re getting gang members out, we’re getting drug lords out, we’re getting really bad dudes out of this country at a rate that nobody’s ever seen before,” the president said during a White House event with manufacturing executives. “And it’s a military operation because they’re allowed to come into our country.”
“We’re going to have a good relationship with Mexico I hope,” Mr. Trump said. “And if we don’t, we don’t.”
In midday meetings in Mexico City, the U.S. cabinet members delivered two key assurances to their Mexican counterparts: that they wouldn’t institute “mass deportations,” and that the U.S. military wouldn’t take part in rounding up and ejecting illegal migrants.
Gabriela Cuevas, the head of the Mexican Senate’s foreign relations committee, said she was deeply troubled by the apparent discrepancy between what the U.S. envoys said in Mexico City and Mr. Trump’s actions and words.
“I see a different message coming from the White House and from the secretaries visiting here,” she said. “One doesn’t know if Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Kelly are telling the truth or not. It’s a problem of credibility. Did they come to tell lies? Or are they just not coordinating with their boss? Who do you believe?”
Later Thursday, the White House sought to walk back Mr. Trump’s use of the word “military” in reference to the immigration enforcement.
“The president was using that as an adjective. It’s happening with precision and in a manner in which it’s being done very, very clearly,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, at a news briefing. “The president was clearly describing the manner in which this was being done.”
Lots of mixed messages here. I don’t see much chance at present that Mexico is going to agree to allow non-Mexican-citizens to wait for their U.S. immigration hearings in Mexico.