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Mexican foreign minister expresses 'concern,' 'irritation' over U.S. immigration policies

By Andrew V. Pestano
Mexican foreign minister expresses 'concern,' 'irritation' over U.S. immigration policies
From left, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, Mexican Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong and Mexican Secretary of Finance José Antonio Meade held a bilateral meeting on Thursday. During a press conference, Videgaray expressed the "concern" and "irritation" Mexicans have over U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration policies "that could be harmful." Photo courtesy of Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs

Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray expressed the "concern" and "irritation" Mexicans have over U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration policies "that could be harmful" during a press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Videgaray made the comment Thursday after meeting with Tillerson and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, along with his counterparts Mexican Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong and Mexican Secretary of Finance José Antonio Meade.

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Videgaray said rebuilding the relationship between the United States and Mexico would not be easy. Both diplomats said, although acknowledging the fraught relations, that directly discussing their differences was in their shared interests.

"There exists among Mexicans concern, irritation before what is perceived as politics that could be harmful to the national interest of Mexicans in Mexico and in the exterior," Videgaray said. "In the moment when our countries and our governments have public and notorious differences, the best way to resolve them is through dialogue."

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On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced a more aggressive plan to enforce U.S. immigration laws and expand the pool of potential deportees -- a move that greatly concerned Mexican officials and the tens of thousands of Mexican nationals living in the United States.

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Following the announcement, Videgaray said "the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept measures that, in a unilateral way, one government wants to impose on another."

On Feb. 12, about 20,000 people in Mexico City protested against Trump -- one of the latest demonstrations denouncing Trump since he described some Mexicans who attempt to illegally enter the United States as "rapists" and "drug dealers" during his campaign for the presidency.

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In his speech, Tillerson said that as a native Texan, he always considered Mexico a close neighbor.

"Although our two nations share a long history, our visit was forward-looking -- focusing on common interests that would advance security and economic well-being," Tillerson said. "In our meetings, we jointly acknowledged that in a relationship filled with vibrant colors, two strong sovereign countries from time to time will have differences."

The full press conference is available to view online.

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