In the midst of a raging political battle in the United States over President Donald Trump’s unprecedented measures against migrants and asylum-seekers along the southern border, Vice President Mike Pence set out on a tour of Latin America this week. The trip was planned and announced before Trump’s so-called zero tolerance policy against illegal immigration, including forcibly separating children from their parents, turned into a major international news story.
Trump has since moved to rescind the family separation policy with an executive order, although his administration, characteristically, is still sending out mixed messages about whether the policy is still in place. On Tuesday, a federal judge in California issued a preliminary injunction that ordered the government to reunite separated families within 30 days, as thousands of children remain in U.S. government custody.
Rather than die down, the controversy continues to make headlines around the world, including in the Latin American countries on Pence’s trip. That makes for some very awkward diplomacy, showcasing how some of Trump’s most disruptive policies are undermining Washington’s foreign policy objectives.