Mexico strongly condemned US President Donald Trump’s administration on Tuesday for its policy of separating immigrant children and parents detained after crossing the US-Mexican border, calling it “inhuman.”
“In the name of the Mexican government and people, I want to express our most categorical and energetic condemnation of this cruel and inhuman policy,” Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told a press conference.
“We call on the United States government, at the highest level, to reconsider this policy and give priority to the wellbeing and rights of these boys and girls, regardless of their nationality and immigration status.”
The Trump administration faces a growing swell of condemnation at home and abroad for the separations, the product of a “zero-tolerance” policy on undocumented migrants.
The United Nations, international rights groups, Christian evangelicals, the pope, former US first ladies and prominent figures in the president’s own Republican party have all criticised the policy.
Guatemala expressed its “concern” Tuesday over the policy and its effects. The human rights ombudsmen of Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras meanwhile petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington to intervene to block the “dangerous” policy.
US officials say more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents or guardians since early May, when the “zero-tolerance” policy was announced.
Lawmakers who visited minors in detention in Texas and California have described crying children held in cage-like conditions behind chain-link fencing, with no idea when they will see their parents again.
A defiant Trump has vowed to prevent the United States from becoming a “migrant camp” and accused the opposition Democratic party of causing the crisis by blocking immigration reform legislation.
The vast majority of separated families come from Central America, where brutal gangs have made their countries among the most violent in the world. Around one percent of the detained children are Mexican, said Videgaray.
US-Mexican relations have been strained since Trump won election in 2016 after a campaign laced with anti-Mexican barbs and promises to build a wall on the two countries’ border and make Mexico pay for it.
US tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum, Trump’s insistence on overhauling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and his attacks on migrants have only added to the tension.