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Mexico's secretary of foreign affairs concludes tour of consulates in Texas amid tensions over SB4

Mexican Foreign Secretary Alicia Barcena Ibarra speaks during her visit to the El Paso Healing Garden to meet with family members of the people who died in the Aug. 3, 2019, shooting on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.
Gaby Velasquez
Mexican Foreign Secretary Alicia Barcena Ibarra speaks during her visit to El Paso's Healing Garden to meet with family members of the people who died in the Aug. 3, 2019, shooting. She laid a wreath in memory of the Mexicans who lost their lives due to hate speech and said that such tragedies should never be repeated.

Alicia Bárcena Ibarra wrapped up a tour of Texas on Sunday after meeting with all of Mexico's consular offices in the Lone Star State.

The aim of the tour was to speak to stakeholders about the state's controversial new immigration law, SB4.

The law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott would allow state law enforcement to arrest and deport people they believe crossed the border illegally.

It's been put on hold by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals while the court considers SB4's constitutionality.

Proponents said the law is needed because of the Biden administration's failed border policies. Critics said it could lead to racial profiling, and it also steps on the federal government's responsibility to enforce immigration law.

"My hope is once the election in the U.S. is resolved, these types of issues are going to be out," Bárcena Ibarra said at a press conference at San Antonio's Mexican Cultural Insititute.

She said the Mexican government is working with the Biden administration on orderly mechanisms for migration, and her country would not accept any immigrants Texas attempts to return to Mexico.

Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs, meets with the heads of all of the Mexican consulates in Texas in San Antonio on Friday April 19, 2024.
Courtesy photo
Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores
Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, Mexico's secretary of foreign affairs, met with leading Mexican diplomats serving in Texas on Friday, April 19, 2024, in San Antonio.

Bárcena Ibarra also visited Eagle Pass, the epicenter of Abbott's Operation Lone Star Border Security initiative.

She told reporters in San Antonio that she was concerned that Abbott's efforts have encroached into Mexican territory.

"And that is something that is totally unacceptable," Bárcena Ibarra said. "We have a 1944 tratado [treaty] that has to be respected on both sides. If we start violating our conventions, what's going to happen?"

Bárcena Ibarra also met with representatives from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, immigrant rights organizations, and business executives.

"We want it to be understood that there is more to the relationship between Mexico and the United States. We can turn this region into the most powerful economic region in the world," she told business executives in El Paso. "Today we are the U.S.’ top trading partners. We trade almost $1.5 million per minute."

In an op-ed published in the Dallas Morning News, Bárcena Ibarra said SB4 jeopardizes Mexico's cooperation with Texas.

"The Mexican government cannot remain indifferent to initiatives that racially profile and unlawfully detain not just Mexican nationals, but anyone of Mexican descent. Our message is clear in the amicus curiae brief filed in federal court," she said.

She added: "In the past days, I have met with Texans to reaffirm the values that unite us. If we steer our relationship by those values, with shared prosperity as our common destiny, there is nothing that, together, we cannot achieve."

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