Mexico’s foreign minister on Tuesday added his voice to the chorus condemning the Trump administration’s separation of children from their parents at the southern US border, calling the policy “cruel and inhumane.”
Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray referred to one case involving a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome as “particularly painful.” He said the girl and her brother were sent to a US facility in McAllen, Texas, while her mother went to one an hour away in Brownsville.
The Mexican consulate in McAllen is working to get the girl released so she can be united with her father, the foreign minster said. The father is a legal US resident.
Videgaray said the Mexican government was aware of 21 Mexican children who have been separated from parents. Seven are still in US detention.
“The Mexican government in no way promotes illegal migration,” he said. “However, according to our constitutional principles and our convictions, we cannot be indifferent before an act that clearly represents a violation of human rights and that puts into a vulnerable position minors, children, including those with disabilities.”
Videgaray made his comments to reporters at a Mexico City news conference, saying he had raised the issue with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Videgaray urged the international community not to remain indifferent to the policy, which has drawn criticism from former first lady Laura Bush, the United Nations and prominent Republicans such as Arizona’s Sen. John McCain.
The foreign minister said about 1% of the children detained at the US border were Mexican, with the majority hailing from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
On Tuesday, President Trump ramped up his heated immigration rhetoric, accusing Democrats of wanting “illegal immigrants … to pour into and infest our country.”
He tweeted: “Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13. They can’t win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters!” he wrote.
Trump later spoke at a National Federation of Independent Businesses event in Washington and said Mexico does “nothing” to stop undocumented immigrants from crossing into the United States.
“They come up through Mexico,” he said. “Mexico does nothing for us. You hear it here: They do nothing for us. They could stop it. They have very, very strong laws. Try staying in Mexico for a couple of days, see how long that lasts. OK? They do nothing for us.”
Trump said he doesn’t “want the children to be taken away from parents” but added that it’s necessary to prosecute the parents for crossing into the country illegally.
“We want to solve family separation, and I don’t want the children to be taken away from parents, and when you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away,” he said.
On Monday, the UN high commissioner for human rights slammed the administration’s policy.
“The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said in Geneva. “I call on the United States to immediately end the practice of forcible separation of these children.”
The policy has caused the separation of at least 2,000 children from their parents, Department of Homeland Security officials said last week.
CNN’s Natalie Gallón, Lonzo Cook and Ana Melgar contributed to this report.