© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Trucks wait in a queue to cross into the United States in the Jeronimo-Santa Teresa International Bridge connecting the city of Ciudad Juarez to Santa Teresa, Nuevo Mexico, Mexico April 14, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez/File Photo
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Measures agreed last month between Mexican state governors and Texas to tighten border security following Texan pressure over immigration were tantamount to “extortion”, Mexico’s foreign minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott made deals with the governors of the border states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon after enhanced Texan security checks to prevent smuggling of people and contraband had disrupted trade.
The episode sparked a testy response from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who described Texas’ behavior as “despicable”, and his foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, this weekend weighed in with his own criticism.
“Let me put this in quotation marks, it’s an extortion scheme, or rather it is extortion; I close the border and you have to sign whatever I say. That’s not a deal, a deal is when you and I are in agreement on something,” Ebrard was quoted as saying by news network Milenio during a visit to Nuevo Leon.
Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside of normal business hours.
Ebrard did not take issue with the Mexican governors, saying that they had been presented with no alternative.
“But we’re not prepared to have a governor extorting Mexico. I will never allow that,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Mexican foreign ministry said Ebrard had been interviewed by Milenio.
Abbott, who is running for re-election as governor, said Texas had reached accords with the Mexican states to beef up security at the border in order to curb illegal immigration.
Record numbers of people have this year been caught trying to cross the Mexican border into the United States.