MEXICO CITY – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday thanked his Mexican counterpart for increased immigration enforcement by the country that Washington said is leading to fewer migrants entering the United States.
The meeting confirmed a considerably calmer tone in U.S.-Mexican relations than in early June, when President Donald Trump had threatened stiff new trade tariffs against America’s southern neighbor unless it acted forcefully to slow the migrant flow.
Pompeo met Sunday in Mexico City with Foreign Secretary Marcelo Luis Ebrard during a regional trip that began in Argentina and Ecuador and was to end later in the day in El Salvador.
“Secretary Pompeo thanked Foreign Secretary Ebrard for Mexico’s increased immigration enforcement efforts, which initial indications suggest is leading to reduced flows of illegal immigrants arriving at the US southern border,” the State Department said.
The meeting, while focused primarily on migration, also included talks on recovering the wealth of notorious drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — sentenced last week in the U.S. to life imprisonment — as well as the status of the not-yet-ratified North American trade agreement, the Mexican Foreign Ministry said.
The Mexican statement used language slightly stronger than the U.S. readout, saying Pompeo had recognized “significant advances” by Mexico on slowing migration since a high-stakes June 7 meeting in Washington held amid a growing migration crisis.
That accord — reached under the shadow of Trump’s trade threats — stipulated that failure by Mexico to rein in cross-border migration within 45 days could result in the need to negotiate a tougher arrangement.
But the Mexican statement said that “in light of these advances,” Ebrard “does not consider it necessary to initiate” such negotiations.
At the meeting Sunday, Ebrard said Mexico’s strategy to “ensure orderly, safe and regular migrant flows will continue for the next 45 days,” the Mexican statement said.
The Mexican government in June deployed thousands of soldiers and police officers, both near the southern border with Guatemala and the U.S. border in the north, to slow the migrant flow, which has come principally from impoverished and crime-ridden Central American countries.
Official Mexican figures say the number of migrants coming into Mexico from those countries fell from 144,000 in May to 100,000 in June.
Pompeo and Ebrard also discussed the fortune amassed by drug kingpin Guzman.
The U.S. judge who sentenced him to life in prison last week ordered Guzman to forfeit $12.6 billion, but Mexico wants the money to stay in that country.
The two diplomats discussed creating a binational group to study the matter.
Pompeo traveled afterward to El Salvador for a meeting with President Nayib Bukele. They were slated to discuss ways to reduce migration, fight corruption, and strengthen Salvadoran law enforcement, the State Department said.