Amid tensions in US-Mexico relations, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Mexico’s interior secretary says that there is no chance it will accept deported immigrants.

On Friday, the interior secretary said that the Mexican government made clear to visiting US emissaries that it will not accept deportees from third countries under any circumstances.

A strained relationship

In an interview with Radio Formula, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said that Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, and John Kelly, the homeland security secretary asked Mexican officials during their visit on Thursday if they would host deportees from other countries while their immigration cases are processed in the US.

“They can’t leave them here on the border because we have to reject them. There is no chance they would be received by Mexico,” Osorio Chong said.

“They asked us that while their legal process is happening there if they could be here,” he added. “And we told them that there’s no way we can have them here during that process.”

US-Mexico relations are currently tense due to Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Mexico. He has carried his tough campaign talk about immigrants and factory jobs that moved to Mexico into the White House, ordering the building of a border wall, stepped-up deportations and a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Department of Homeland Security published a memo by earlier this week suggesting that US immigration officials could deport illegal immigrants in the country to the contiguous country they had entered from, which in the vast majority of cases would be Mexico. Most the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border in recent years are from Central America.

Pressure cards

On Friday, Osorio Chong said that if the US government tries to force Mexico by threatening to pull out funding from the nearly $2.5bn Mérida Initiative to fight organized crime, Mexico will let that money go.

Osorio Chong said that the initiative was started in 2008, it’s almost concluded with most remaining funding going to Mexican states applying reforms to the justice system. In its early years, Mérida provided Mexico’s military with helicopters and trained its security forces.

“If that resource could be an issue for pressure or if they want to pressure the government, honestly, we have no problem, none, if they withdraw it,” he said.