Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly ruled out the possibility of using military troops in immigration enforcement, after meetings in Mexico City on Thursday.
Speaking just hours after President Trump said his new deportation policies were “a military operation,” and days after a leaked memo suggested that National Guard troops could be harnessed to arrest illegal immigrants, Mr. Kelly sought to reject those ideas.
“There will be no use of military forces in immigration,” he said, repeating that statement several times and pleading with the press that “at least half of you try to get that right.”
Mr. Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were in Mexico to meet their counterparts as the two countries try to move forward under a Trump administration.
Both sides insisted they struck a spirit of productivity and cooperation, but the encouraging words could not obscure the deep divisions that have emerged over trade and immigration policy.
The Mexican officials, in particular, expressed their anger at Mr. Trump’s calls for swifter deportations of illegal immigrants in the U.S., and for trying to push Mexico to do more to stem the flow of Central Americans streaming north through their country.
“There’s a concern among Mexicans, there’s irritation before what has been perceived as policies that might be harmful for the Mexicans,” Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said through a translator.