Washington (CNN)-Mexico is pushing back against the Trump administration's new immigration directives that could have dramatic implications for the United States' southern neighbor, as top US officials come to visit the country.
Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said his country is worried about recent actions that could greatly expand US deportations of undocumented immigrants, including sending non-Mexicans to Mexico.
"I want to make it clear, in the most emphatic way, that the Mexican government and the people of Mexico do not have to accept measures unilaterally imposed on a government by another government," Videgaray said.
He spoke just hours before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly arrived in Mexico for meetings on security, immigration, trade and the border with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and other officials, the bulk of which take place on Thursday.
President Donald Trump's rhetoric and policies have cranked up the tension in US-Mexico relations to a high not seen in decades. He's blamed the country for sending rapists into the US, castigated undocumented immigrants from across the border and blasted Mexico for what he says are unfair trade practices. One of Trump's first actions as president was to order the construction of a border wall that he insists Mexico will pay for, despite the country's repeated refusals.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration issued guidance on deportations that could apply to every undocumented immigrant in the US and enable state and local law enforcement to act as immigration officers.
Another change to asylum procedures would make it easier for immigration officers to send non-Mexican migrants to Mexico if they came through the country on their way to the US. The change could potentially send tens of thousands of Central Americans fleeing violence, gangs and drug cartels back into Mexico, an issue Kelly and Tillerson will almost certainly have to address.
A Mexican official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters, said that Pena Nieto, Videgaray and other officials will make clear to Kelly and Tillerson that Mexico will not take deportees who are not Mexican nationals.
A second Mexican official emphasized that Mexico is not bound by a US presidential order and said there's nothing the US can do to force the issue. This official pointed out that there is no bilateral agreement between the US and Mexico on having to take these immigrants.
This official said that for more than two years, Mexico has been stopping Central American migrants before they reach the US -- and added that this is one of the pieces of leverage they have. If Trump doesn't stop these "orders," it will make it more difficult for Mexico to continue this cooperation, the official said.
Speaking in Guatemala Wednesday ahead of his visit to Mexico, Kelly said the President has authorized DHS to "protect and gain control" of US borders and "emphasized the mission of intercepting irregular immigrants from many countries on our borders, treat them humanely and return them to their countries of origin as fast as possible."
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