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  • Marcelo Ebrard speaks as Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador looks on at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, June 14, 2019.

    Marcelo Ebrard speaks as Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador looks on at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, June 14, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 June 2019 (20 hours 56 minutes ago)

The Mexican government toughens its immigration control hoping to stave off U.S. economic sanctions.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)'s administration in Mexico says that the United States has pledged US$5.8 billion to go towards investing in Central American countries and US$2 billion in southern Mexican states as part of a proposed economic development plan the countries' leaders hope will stem the flow of Central Americans seeking refugee in the U.S. 

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During a Friday morning press conference, Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard says that the U.S. Donald Trump administration agreed to investments US$5.8 billion in Central American countries and another US$2 billion in the Mexican southern states as part of a deal the two parties brokered last week. Leaders from both countries met in Washington because in early June, Trump suddenly threatened to slap progressive tariffs on Mexican imports starting June 10 "until" Mexico's “illegal immigration problem is remedied.”

"What did we say to the U.S.?" Ebrard asked during the Friday morning press conference alongside AMLO referring to the negotiations with Washington: "Instead of worrying or getting angry with Mexico because [migrants] are passing through, better invest in Central America so that we can give people jobs," the foreign minister answered his own question.

Mexico's Secretary of Latin America and the Caribbean Maximiliano Reyes will represent his country during upcoming meetings with Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran officials on the plan that will also include several branches of the United Nations.

Ebrard continues to say it will not act as a 'third country' that will hold "an unlimited number of asylum seekers," awaiting processing from the U.S., but then said Mexico will negotiate which of its cities will receive such people, according to Reuters. As part of the deal, the U.S. will be allowed to verify in 45 days if Mexico is keeping up its end of the deal.

The Mexican officials also announced that rather than deploy its 6,000 new National Guard across the country by June 30, it will do so by June 18 at 13 specific points along the border, a move critics say continues the militarization techniques introduced by the previous two administrations. Another 825 new National Institute of Migration (INM) agents will also be dispersed along Mexico's borders, according to EFE.

At a Thursday press conference held in Veracruz, a city that once welcomed thousands of Spaniards fleeing their civil war 80 years ago, Ebrard said that Mexico will begin to register the names and national origins of all migrants passing through the country. The minister said that all countries have the right "to exercise that power," adding that "most of us do not even know even the names of the people crossing through the country."

Ebrard told reporters: "If you want to cross our territory to reach another country, we are going to tell you: 'we do not want you to cross our territory' if you are just passing through," said Ebrard, in referrence to the increased number of Central Americans trying to reach the U.S. via Mexico.

The high-level officer explained that changes in immigration procedures do not imply that thousands of people will have to wait in Mexico before entering the U.S., but that the plan is being exercised because the migratory flow "cannot and must not continue like this."

"Everyone will be surveillanced. It's a plan to have control on the border," AMLO said at the Friday press conference in Mexico City, adding that his government will provide medical care and job opportunities to migrants who remain in shelters located on the northern border. 

"That is part of the plan... [we have to] give options to migrants [who] regardless of borders are human beings with the right to make a living," said the head of state.​​​​​

Lopez Obrador added that migrant children will receive help from the National System for the Integral Development of the Family (DIF) at the nothern and southern borders. "If necessary, we will embrace them, protect them and make them Mexicans, ... brotherhood is universal" said the president Friday morning.​​​​​​​

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