The Mexican government has opened up legal aid centers at its consulates across the US, in anticipation of a new wave of crackdowns on illegal immigrants by the administration of President Donald Trump.
Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray defended the move on Sunday, saying his government had to protect its people in the face of Trump’s aggressive immigration policies.
“We are not promoting illegality,” Videgaray said during an event at the Mexican consulate in New York, Reuters reported.
“Today we are facing a situation that can paradoxically represent an opportunity, when suddenly a government wants to apply the law more severely,” he added.
Since his inauguration on January 20, Trump has used all of his powers to fight immigration and deliver on one of his main campaign promises.
During his first week in office, Trump ordered the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico and authorized a crackdown on US cities that shielded illegal immigrants.
Most recently, the Manhattan billionaire ordered an entry ban against people coming from seven Muslim countries. The ban was halted after a federal court’s ruling.
The Trump administration has also floated the idea of using the National Guard to step up the already aggressive campaign, which has seen hundreds of immigrants with criminal pasts arrested and sent back.
Earlier this week, sources within the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed that the Trump administration was weighing tougher measures to curb the influx of immigrants.
Under the new plan, women and children sneaking together into America would be separated, a move officials said is aimed at discouraging mothers from migrating to the US.
Calling for immigration reform, Videgaray said Sunday that the crackdown was going to hurt the American economy as well.
"It is becoming more than evident that to apply the law, which is the obligation of any state, would also imply a real economic damage to this country which highlights the need for immigration reform, an immigration reform that resolves once and for all the legal status of the people," Videgaray argued Saturday.