MEXICO CITY – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged on Sunday Mexico’s progress on increasing immigration enforcement, noting that the effort is resulting in fewer migrants entering the United States.
Pompeo met with Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard in Mexico City on a Latin American tour that started in Argentina and Ecuador, moving on to El Salvador.
The two officials met one day before the 45-day deadline established in their immigration agreement on June 7 was due to expire.
In that agreement, Mexico promised to take measures to control immigration along its southern border in exchange for the US not imposing additional tariffs on its exports to its northern neighbor.
“Secretary Pompeo thanked Foreign Minister Ebrard for Mexico’s increased immigration enforcement efforts,” the State Department said in a statement.
Earlier, in El Salvador, Pompeo had said that Mexico had “made real progress” on migration, telling a news conference in San Salvador that “The numbers are good ... There are fewer apprehensions taking place today along our southern border, but we’ve got a long way to go yet – there’s still much more work to do.”
The dialogue between the pair “was conducted in a cordial manner and led to positive results for both countries,” the Mexican Foreign Secretariat said in a communique.
As a result of these advances, Ebrard said that Mexico “does not consider it necessary to begin any kind of negotiations regarding a prospective safe third country (agreement) between Mexico and the United States.”
With his meeting with Ebrard, Pompeo’s official agenda in Mexico came to a close.
In addition to the immigration issue, Ebrard also discussed with Pompeo assorted trade matters, including the 17.5 percent tariffs imposed by the US on Mexican tomatoes last May and the shipment of weapons from the US to Mexico, which is considered to be linked to regional security.
The tariff amounts to an additional cost on Mexican tomatoes of $350 million per year, as Mexico exports some $2 billion worth of the vegetable to the US each year.
Mexico suggested the establishment of a binational commission to recover billions of dollars in the hands of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years in the US and it also emphasized the resumption of the repatriation program between the two nations that was suspended in 2018.
Ebrard said that Mexico will continue to pursue the immigration strategy of guaranteeing orderly, safe and regular migration.
The main sites involved in weapons smuggling to Mexico are the border crossing points at San Diego (California)-Tijuana (Baja California), El Paso (Texas)-Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua), Laredo-Nuevo Laredo, McAllen-Reynosa and Brownsville-Matamoros.
Earlier on Sunday, Pompeo had traveled to San Salvador and met with President Nayib Bukele to discuss the efforts made by the Central American country to halt irregular, or illegal, migration.
Pompeo arrived in San Salvador about 1 pm and was received by Bukele at the government headquarters.
US Ambassador to El Salvador Jean Manes said Sunday that the meeting was important for strengthening the bilateral relationship, given that this is the first time in 10 years that a US secretary of state has visited the Central American country.
According to the US Embassy, Pompeo discussed with Bukele Washington’s interest in reducing illegal migration and supporting Salvadoran efforts to create economic opportunity and combat corruption.