United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Mexico on Friday that immigrants bring enormous value to the U.S., but added the U.S. government lacks good discipline in regulating who enters the country to live. After meeting in Mexico City with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, Tillerson told reporters the U.S. has put many mechanisms in place over the years to control immigration, but has never gone back to clean this up.c
Let's make sure we have systems in place where we understand who's coming into the country, Tillerson said. He said immigration in the U.S. has gotten out of normal order, which is why President Donald Trump is pushing Congress to fix these defects that have risen over the years.
The Mexican government has repeatedly expressed opposition to Trump's proposals to curb illegal immigration and have Mexico pay for a reinforced border wall.
Differences over the issue did not preclude Videgaray from praising the U.S. He said the Mexican government's relationship with the Trump administration is closer than it was with former President Barack Obama's administration. Videgaray acknowledged the two countries do have some differences but said we are working closely and we are about results.
Tillerson later held a closed-door meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during a time when relations have also been strained by U.S. threats to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
NAFTA, which Trump alleges costs American jobs, was discussed at the trilateral meeting, along with energy development and drug interdiction.
Tillerson's visit to Mexico is the first stop on a six-day trip through Latin America that will also take him to Argentina, Peru and Colombia, with a final stop in Jamaica on February 7.
Before embarking on his trip, Tillerson delivered a speech Thursday at his alma mater, University of Texas at Austin, during which he warned that China and Russia are assuming alarming roles in Latin America and urged regional powers to work with the U.S. instead.
Latin America doesn't need new imperial powers that seek only to benefit their own people, Tillerson said. ”China, as it does in emerging markets throughout the world, offers the appearance of an attractive path to development, but in reality this often involves trading short-term gains for long-term dependency.''
He also derided Russia for selling weaponry to unfriendly, authoritarian governments in the region.