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Homeland Security

Statements to the Press

Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso, and Mexican Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong
Foreign Ministry
Mexico City, Mexico
February 23, 2017

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon. Welcome, you all, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thank you all for your patience and for being at this press release headed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (inaudible) Videgaray Caso, the Secretary of the Interior Miguel Osorio Chong, the Secretary of State from the United States Rex Tillerson, and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

FOREIGN SECRETARY VIDEGARAY: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon, you all. We thank you for your patience for this message to all the media. Mr. Secretary Rex Tillerson and Mr. Secretary John Kelly, welcome to Mexico and welcome to the Foreign Ministry Affairs. Mr. Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, thank you very much for your attendance. Welcome to all the media representatives too.

Today all our work groups of the Government of Mexico and the United States well reviewed topics for the bilateral agenda with the aim of continuing the dialogue between both nations and to give a follow-up on what was agreed by the presidents in their last phone call. Before going to specific issues, I would like to highlight some of the aspects that were reviewed today with the Secretaries Tillerson and Kelly where, besides Mr. Osorio, also Jose Antonio Meade of the Ministry of Treasury participated.

First of all, we would like to express that this visit – we are really honored and really thankful, because it's taking place in a very key moment for Mexico and United States. As you all know, we – there is a concern among Mexicans, there's irritation, before what it has been perceived as policies that might be harmful for the Mexicans and for the Mexican industry in foreign (inaudible).

I will like to say that this is the first meeting that we have with our counterparts. We have had bilateral intermural meetings, but this is the first meeting that was held as a working group. And this has been done after few weeks of the – of the position taken by Tillerson and Kelly. This is – should show us that for the United States it's important their relation with Mexico, as well as for the Mexican Government it's important, of high importance, the relationship with United States.

I will really like to thank Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Kelly their attendance, their presence here in Mexico. In a moment where we have notorious differences, the best way to solve them is through the dialogue – an honest dialogue, a clear dialogue, that finally can take place between two nations that have deep bonds and links of friendship, closeness, and of course, of the society in our North America.

We have had space to dialogue with the – of different topics of the agenda. We know that – we acknowledge that this is a long-term process, that it won't be necessary simple. But we are taking steps towards the proper direction, and today we took some steps toward these positive directions. We have coincide in some issues, and the first one is the need to continue working, of continued our dialogue, and to continue exchanging points of view so as to achieves agreements.

For Mexico, we have mentioned this and we have expressed this to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Homeland Security. As Secretary from the United States, dialogue and negotiation with the United States must have an integral and comprehensive approach. This is to say he has to enclose all topics. This is why this is really important to have the presence of the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State has the faculties and the power to see at a comprehensive approach the relations between the Foreign Ministry Affairs and the Department of States would be the main axis for articulating this integral dialogue, a dialogue that will include all topics, including migration, security, and, of course, trade. This last topic we – has been – hasn't been touched yet, but we are planning to start it in the future months, as we have explained.

I would like to focus on the migratory topic. We have expressed both Secretaries Tillerson and Kelly, first of all, our concern, concern to respect the rights of Mexicans living in the United States, and more specifically the human rights. And we have listened to a deep coincident on behalf of both secretaries that this is undoubtedly and a very positive situation that we will face this topic with the mechanics and with dialogues that will continue growing between both of us.

We've also talked about the legal impossibility of a government to take decisions that will affect another government in a unilateral fashion. Therefore, there is a need for these type of decisions that undoubtedly affect both countries would be the result of an agreement and a dialogue in (inaudible). And this is a fundamental principle that we have coincide of that.

And I will also like to mention a very significant coincidence that it's – the concerns Central American. For all of us, it's (inaudible) the immigration phenomena – it's completely different. Mexico had to stop of being the origin of immigratory people, so we attract to be a transit country. The countries that are in the North Triangle – Guatemala, Honduras, and Salvador – are the main countries that are sending immigrants. We have to assume both governments – Mexican Government, the United States – and shared approach, an approach that will not only be limited to the migration purpose, but that will – can cover the different issues of the development agreements.

And we have agreed that in the next months we will summon for a meeting that – together with Mexico, then the United States, we will invite other countries in the region, such as Canada, Colombia, and other countries from Central America, so as to held a very constructive dialogue and that (inaudible) a joint awareness and responsibility, understanding that it is through the development stability the way that we can solve the different causes of migration.

It will be a long way to go to behold agreements with the United States, but today we have taken a good step. The differences between Mexico and the United States are still there, and we must work to reach to agreements that will serve both interests. To overcome the aggressions, to overcome the negative feelings that are prevailing nowadays, more than words, what would be most important would be the facts. And today, we have traced that through different facts and actions we'll consolidate our relationship between Mexico and the United States as a joint work and reliable friendship and relations.

Thank you very much, and welcome again to Mexico.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Mr. Videgaray. Now we will invite Secretary Tillerson.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, thank you very much, Secretary Videgaray, and my good friend, Luis. As I shared with others since my arrival, I am delighted to be in Mexico City. And I'm particularly pleased that Secretary Kelly has traveled with me so that we could have very comprehensive discussions of issues of great importance between our two countries. As I shared with others, I am a native Texan; I was born in Texas and spent almost all of my life living in Texas. So Mexico, for all of my life, has been a very close neighbor and I have a great affection for the Mexican people, and so I'm really pleased to be here.

We have just concluded very productive meetings last night and this morning with our counterparts, the Secretary of Government Osorio, Secretary of Foreign Relations Videgaray, the Secretary of National Defense General Cienfuegos, Secretary of the Navy Admiral Soberon, and Secretary of Finance and Public Credit Meade. During the course of our meetings, we discussed the breadth of challenges and opportunities in the U.S.-Mexico relationship. Although our two nations share a long history, our visit was forward-looking, focusing on common interests that would advance security and economic well-being.

In our meetings, we jointly acknowledged that in a relationship filled with vibrant colors, two strong, sovereign countries from time to time will have differences. We listened closely and carefully to each other as we respectfully and patiently raised our respective concerns. Our conversations covered the full range of bilateral issues. We reaffirmed our close cooperation on economic and commercial issues such as energy, legal migration, security, educational exchanges, and people-to-people ties. We agreed that our two countries should seize the opportunity to modernize and strengthen our trade and energy relationship. We also reiterated our joint commitment to maintaining law and order along our shared border by stopping potential terrorists and dismantling the transnational criminal networks moving drugs and people into the United States. Similarly, we underscored the importance of stopping the illegal firearms and bulk cash that is originating in the United States and flowing into Mexico.

There's no mistaking that the rule of law matters along both sides of our border. We recognize the existing U.S.-Mexican cooperation to curtail irregular migration, both by securing Mexico's southern border and by supporting efforts of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador through the Alliance for Prosperity to reduce violence and stimulate economic opportunity in the region. On this issue, we discussed the importance of fair treatment of all of those in this transit.

Finally, we universally agreed on the importance of strengthening existing institutional mechanisms. The meetings were the continuation of a purposeful and productive exchange that is setting our two countries down a pathway to greater security and long-term prosperity. And we look forward to further meetings – perhaps in Washington, D.C. – to continue to progress our important discussions on these issues.

Both Secretary Kelly and I look forward to and are honored with – by the opportunity to meet with President Pena Nieto.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Please, Secretary Kelly and Secretary Osorio Chong, could you please come to the podium so that you can address some words?

GOVERNMENT SECRETARY OSORIO CHONG: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon, you all, Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Kelly, Secretary – Minister Videgaray, representatives of all media. Undoubtedly it has been a very significant meeting, as Mr. Videgaray mentioned. And this is true because, as we've mentioned, that in the last years, Mexico and the United States have shared the purpose of building up a more prosperous and safe region for all their people. The understanding, the co-responsibility, and mutual respect have been the foundations under which a cooperation relationship has been built that has proven to be successful for both countries.

From the point of view of the security and the immigration flows, this relationship has been strategic. This is why today we have expressed to the counterparts of the United States the need of building up dialogue – building up a dialogue that will allow us to have a new stage for working. We already stated that we did not agree on the different measures that recently were stated by the Government of the United States that have immediate – that would affect Mexico. We have expressed our concern on the increase of deportations and before – the possibility of citizens of other countries that could be returned or sent back to our territory so that they can outwait for the legal resolution.

We have mentioned that all actions that our countries will decide in their regional security and safety issues or migrations have – they go beyond borders. Therefore, we have to get to a consensus as much as possible. But the Government of Mexico considered that the schemes of coordinations and the different mechanisms of cooperations that we have need a permanent dialogue that will set the needs of both countries. In this regard, we insist the need of maintaining the deportation schemes in an ordered fashion so as to guarantee the human rights of all Mexicans in your country. Likewise, we highlight the importance to continue a close relationship with all other countries of Central America, to build up collaboration schemes that can help us to have a good regional development strategy.

Under this vision and under this approach, we've also reviewed the mechanisms that have been developed to combat the organized crime, terrorism, and drug trafficking. In this regard, we already expressed the need to strengthen the exchange of intelligence as well as to continue with the actions to stop the flow of weapons and our – and the money coming from the States so as to hinder the possibility of these criminal groups that are causing great harm to our population.

In – we are expressing the need of the Mexicans regarding safety and immigrations. We have also (inaudible) some coincidences of strengthening the cooperation between both nations. For this cooperation to be possible and for both countries to benefit from this, it's necessary to create a better understanding with both nations. Mexico needs the United States, and the United States needs Mexico. Our nations will always be neighbors. Therefore, what is the most convenient thing is to establish equal immigrants based on respect that both countries deserved, and history has already shown that this is the way to go.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary Osorio Chang. Now we will invite Mr. Kelly.

SECRETARY KELLY: Well, thank you. It's a great honor for me to be here. It's not my first time in Mexico, nor is it my first time in Mexico City. I always enjoy returning to a place of friendship.

The relationship between the United States and Mexico is among, I believe, the most critical in the world. Not only are we connected by 1,900 miles of border; we are also connected by trade, culture, history, and a commitment to democracy. We cooperate on a wide range of issues, including human rights, economics, energy, environment, climate, security, migration, trafficking, labor, promoting educational and cultural exchanges, and a wide variety of other endeavors.

What happens in Mexico also affects the security of the United States, and what happens in the United States affects security in Mexico. Together, our countries jointly managed the most legally crossed land border on the planet. My personnel – that is, DHS personnel – interact with their Mexican counterparts every day, sharing information, combatting the transiting of illegal goods, and facilitating trade and travel. And they both do it, your people and my people, at great risk to their lives, together they – as together they work their endeavors.

We have a co-responsibility to manage our shared border. Our collaboration is wide and deep, and from my level to the hard-working men and women who partner each day to keep our countries safe and secure. Every day, more than $1.5 billion in trade passes between the United States and Mexico, and it is my responsibility to make sure that trade is not – is speedily crossed between the two countries.

This dynamic trade and relationship has also helped create millions of jobs on both sides of the border. We are committed to our nations' continued success – that is, America's and Mexico's. Safe and efficient trade and travel work hand in hand. The more secure cargo and passengers are as they move, the faster they can move across the borders to the mutual benefit of both countries.

Migration. Migration should be safe, lawful, and orderly. We are deepening our cooperation to ensure fewer migrants embark on the tremendously dangerous journey from Central America to the United States. The U.S. Government is committed to working with Mexico and all of our other partners in the region to address the underlying issues driving illegal migration from Central America. What drives it is lack of economic opportunity, dangerous living conditions. And as you heard, I think everyone up here thus far has talked in terms of focusing on the needs of Central America to try to change the environment that caused so many wonderful people to take such a dangerous journey to the United States.

We are committed to joint efforts – that is, Mexico and America – to make both of our countries more secure. President Trump himself has noted the friendship between our nations and the need for us to work together to make our shared border more secure. We must continue to work together to address common security concerns, including, as Secretary Tillerson mentioned – including weapon smuggling to the south and drug smuggling and human trafficking to the north. It is a privilege for me to work hand in hand with my Mexican brothers and sisters in this endeavor.

Now, this is something I would really like you all to pay attention to because it is frequently misrepresented or misreported in the press. Let me be very, very clear: There will be no, repeat, no mass deportations. Everything we do in DHS will be done legally and according to human rights and the legal justice system of the United States. All deportations will be according to our legal justice system, which is extensive and includes multiple appeals. The focus of deportations will be on the criminal element that have made it into the United States.

All of this will be done, as it always is, in close coordination with the Government of Mexico. And the relationship and the interaction and friendship down on the border is something that you all ought to do a story on, because between the Mexican officials and the American officials, there's a friendship and an air of cooperation that has to see – be seen to be believed.

I already talked about economic development in Central America to try to reduce the reasons why those people come to the United States. And again, listen to this: no, repeat, no use of military force in immigration operations, none.

Yes, we'll approach this operation systematically, in an organized way, in a results-oriented way, in an operational way, in a human dignity way. This is the way great militaries do business; the United States, Mexico, and many others. It is also the way great legal justices – or great legal organizations, police, and federal police do business.

So again, I repeat, there will be no use of military forces in immigration. At least half of you try to get that right, because it continually comes up in the reporting.

And I'll just end by saying I look forward to meeting your president, I look forward to paying him my respects from one country to another, both of which are great democracies.

So with that, I think I'll step back from the podium. Thanks so very much.

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