OSAKA, Japan – US President Donald Trump expressed gratitude to Mexico on Saturday for taking steps to reduce the northbound flow of Central American migrants.
Trump, who met on the sidelines of the G20 summit with Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, said that the Aztec nation has been doing “an incredible job” of easing the pressure of asylum-seekers at the US border.
“They have 6,000 troops on their southern border like Guatemala, very hard to come in now. It was somewhat of a surprise, 16,000 troops at our southern border,” the president told a press conference in Osaka following the conclusion of the summit.
Trump and Ebrard had a “friendly encounter” in Osaka on Friday, the Mexican official’s chief of staff, Fabian Medina, said on Twitter.
“Mexico’s relationship with our northern neighbor will reach a good conclusion,” Medina tweeted.
He said the discussion in Osaka was a continuation of the dialogue between Ebrard and US senior officials that began weeks ago in Washington as Mexico scrambled to dissuade Trump from going through with a threat to impose escalating tariffs on Mexican imports over the immigration issue.
Under the deal, Mexico agreed to implement on the entire length of the border a program requiring Central American asylum-seekers to remain on Mexican soil – potentially for years – as US officials process their applications.
The Mexican government also pledged to deploy 6,000 members of the National Guard to the border with Guatemala to restrict the entry of migrants.
The accord calls for a progress review after 45 days and gives Washington the option to impose the tariffs 45 days later if it decides that Mexico hasn’t done enough to stem the tide of migrants.
On Saturday, however, Trump had nothing but praise for the Mexican government’s efforts on the immigration front and moves to wipe out the country’s powerful drug cartels.
Regarding immigration policy inside the United States, Trump said he plans to proceed with massive round-ups of undocumented migrants, something he announced last week, but subsequently postponed.
“We will be removing large numbers of people starting in a week after, you know, sometime after July 4th,” he said in Osaka.