Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Friday urged Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoKushner to join Pompeo for meetings with Mexican leaders Trump’s harsh immigration policies are a gift for human traffickers Pompeo to meet with Russian, Finnish foreign ministers in Helsinki MORE to reunite migrant families who have been separated from their parents at the border, according to Mexico’s top diplomat.
Peña Nieto’s remarks came after a meeting with Pompeo, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenKushner to join Pompeo for meetings with Mexican leaders Trump administration says it has completed reunifying migrant kids under 5 Election gives Trump a chance to hit the reset button with Mexico MORE, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerKushner to join Pompeo for meetings with Mexican leaders Kushner cut off from some sensitive info under security clearance: report Pivots and pitfalls as President Trump eyes new Mideast peace push through Gaza MORE in Mexico City.
During the meeting, Peña Nieto noted to Pompeo that Mexicans have “great worry” for the more than 2,000 children who have been separated under the Trump administration’s controversial “zero tolerance” border policy.
“[Peña Nieto] urged Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Nielsen and the rest of the delegation that maximum efforts be put into achieving the prompt reunification of families,” Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso said at a joint press conference.
A separate statement from the Mexican president’s office highlighted “the need to find a permanent solution that prioritizes the well-being and rights of minors.”
A federal judge in California ruled that all children under the age of 5 needed to be reunified by July 10, and on July 12 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it had completed family reunifications for all eligible minors under the age of 5.
The government returned 57 eligible children to their families, though it is unclear how the government plans to reunite the remaining children in federal custody.
Peña Nieto and President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani: Trump interview with Mueller ‘further away’ ACLU calls for Trump officials to hand over info on immigrant children Kushner to join Pompeo for meetings with Mexican leaders MORE have had tense encounters in the past, such as when the Mexican leader canceled an official visit to the White House following a contentious call with Trump over the border wall.
Last month, Peña Nieto also blasted the family separation practice as “cruel and inhumane” amid wider backlash to the administration’s zero-tolerance policy.
On Friday, the tone was less caustic, with Pompeo calling the United States and Mexico our “partners, neighbors and friends” during the press availability.
“The United States is committed to making measurable progress to ensure the security of both sides of that border,” Pompeo said. “Americans must be able to see improvements to better protect our sovereignty and the safety of our local communities.”
The U.S. delegation also met with Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who won the July 1 elections with a wide margin and is set to be inaugurated Dec. 1.
Among the other issues discussed in Mexico were the renegotiation of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Videgaray Caso said the Mexican government wants to see done at an “accelerated pace.”
López Obrador gave Pompeo a policy proposal that addresses NAFTA, development, migration and security, the details of which will be made public once Trump receives it, according to the president-elect’s transition team.
López Obrador made NAFTA a signature issue on the campaign trail. Following his victory, Trump congratulated López Obrador — often known by his initials AMLO — via Twitter and said he looks “very much forward to working with him.”