EDITORIAL: US/Mexican diplomats to discuss immigration, ‘safe 3rd country’ pact in DC today

We are encouraged by talks being held today between U.S. officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State, with Mexican officials from their Ministry of Interior (SEGOB) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE,) because it appears that today’s talks are a continuation of discussions last week that centered on amnesty and immigration issues.

But if Politico is correct, the 21st Century Border Technical Working Group meeting today on border security, trade enforcement, and border infrastructure issues very well could break down if U.S. officials expect Mexican officials to agree to a “safe third country” agreement. According to Politico’s sources, both sides are discussing requiring migrants to seek asylum in Mexico if they passed through that country en route to the United States.

The United States and Canada entered into a similar pact in 2002, but entering into one with Mexico — a country that President Donald Trump has repeatedly had disagreements and made disparaging comments about in his quest to get them to pay for a border wall — seems a stretch.

It also comes on the eve of the July 1 presidential elections in Mexico, which could upend talks.

But if such an agreement could be worked out, it might help NAFTA negotiations, many experts believe. Such a trade off on the part of Mexico, could persuade U.S. and Canadian authorities to give in on testy tariff issues that have snagged talks.

Negotiating NAFTA has tremendous economic implications on the Rio Grande Valley, our ports of entry, and businesses.

Mexican Ambassador Gerónimo Gutiérrez is slated to attend today’s talks, which are to take place at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters in Washington, D.C. Also expected at the talks are Narciso Campos, chief of staff to Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray, and José Luis Stein, deputy secretary of the interior for Mexico.

On the U.S. side, James McCament, acting head of the DHS policy office; Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and Francis Cissna, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, are expected to attend, according to Politico.

Could it be possible to solve a major hurdle of immigration and key component of NAFTA all in one scoop? Or is this just posturing and more game playing in Washington, D.C.?

We hope it’s not the latter, and refer to the wording of a brief, 146-word press release issued by DHS Friday, which characterized their talks last week as having made “progress on joint initiatives which support prosperity and security with Central America, following up from the meeting co-convened by the United States and Mexico in June of 2017.” It added: “DHS, DOS, SEGOB and SRE remain committed to continuing the dialogue on these and other matters of mutual interest.”

With economic and immigration issues, both having such a profound affect on the RGV, we certainly hope these diplomats will succeed.

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