Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray condemned the United States' “anti-immigration policies” and said their sovereignty can't ignore “human rights nor peoples' dignity,” during a meeting with Vatican authorities Thursday.
Videgaray took part in the “2nd Colloquium of the Holy See – Mexico about international migration,” celebrated in the Vatican and organized by the Vatican's Secretariat of State and Mexico's Embassy at the Holy See.
The Mexican foreign minister said the “relationship between Mexico and the United States is one of the most important in the world regarding migration,” and highlighted there are about 12 million Mexicans living there and “contributing to that society, working, studying and contributing to the culture and community.”
“We're worried and occupied by the anti-immigrant policies and expressions coming from Washington. We thoroughly recognize the right for a country such as the United States to define their own rules, laws and immigration policies as a sovereign nation... but that sovereign right that every country has can't be above the human rights nor peoples' dignity,” he said.
There are currently 50 Mexican consulates in the U.S. that in “one year and four month have given legal advice to more than 600,000 people,” he said adding that the Mexican government is deploying “every capacity to defend the dignity and human rights of migrants in the U.S.”
He said the Mexican government is worried about “some recent practices” in the U.S., like “separating families” and mentioned that “about 2,000 children have been separated from their parents,” in recent times. Videgaray said he understands their legal basis, but doesn't share it.
A child traveling with a caravan of migrants from Central America sits at a camp near the San Ysidro checkpoint, after U.S. border authorities allowed the first small group of women and children entry from Mexico overnight, in Tijuana, Mexico May 1, 2018. Photo | Reuters
Videgaray stressed that Mexico is a country of immigrants but also a transit country for people coming from Central America, who cross the border on their way to the United States.
Migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, among other Central American countries, face terrible dangers while crossing Mexico, and many don't make it.
The foreign minister said his outgoing government is making an effort to guarantee human rights for these persons, like “new cooperation initiatives such as the 'Yucatan Fund' aiming at investing resources on Central America” to promote employment and stability.
Videgaray regretted that the U.S. left the U.N. agreement on protection of migrants and refugees, something Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's Secretary of State, agreed with.
“It isn't good. Everybody needs to take part, it's a problem, a global phenomena that needs everybody's contribution. No one can back out,” Parolin told reporters during the encounter at Casina Pio IV.
The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Cardinal Daniel DiNardo joined Bishop Joe Vazquez, and President of the Committee on Migration, condemned the “continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border as an implementation of the Administration's zero tolerance policy” in a statement published Wednesday.
"Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral,” said DiNardo.
Both bishops also denounced Attorney General Jeff Sessions's decision to deny asylum to solicitants running away from domestic violence or criminal gangs, arguing that “asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life.”
“Unless overturned, the decision will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors,” wrote DiNardo.
According to the first global analysis on human trafficking by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, strict border control policies actually increase risks for migrants and benefit human traffickers.
The report states that between 2014 and 2015 at least 735,000 people migrated from Central America to North America, mostly to the United States.