Tillerson to spotlight crisis in Venezuela on Latin America trip

Tillerson to spotlight crisis in Venezuela on Latin America trip
© Greg Nash

Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Trump-era ban on travel to North Korea extended Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE is set to underscore U.S. concerns about the mounting crisis in Venezuela on a six-day trip across Latin America next week, the State Department said Friday.

The tour will begin Thursday at the University of Texas at Austin, where Tillerson is expected to deliver a speech outlining the Trump administration's policy priorities in the Western Hemisphere, before leaving the country for Mexico City.

There he's expected to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray and other Mexican officials.

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The visit comes as President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE prepares to unveil a sweeping immigration framework, which is expected to offer a path to citizenship for nearly 2 million young immigrants in the country illegally, but will also demand tens of billions of dollars for the construction of his long-promised wall between the U.S. and Mexico. 

Tillerson will then crisscross South America, making stops in Bariloche and Buenos Aires in Argentina, as well as in Lima, Peru, and Bogotá, Colombia, where he's expected to make a plea for increased regional attention to the crisis in Venezuela. 

The trip is set to end in Kingston, Jamaica, the State Department said.

The secretary of State's focus on Venezuela comes on the heels of new U.S. sanctions against four Venezuelan military officials that the Trump administration has deemed corrupt and responsible for political oppression.

Tensions between Washington and Caracas have soared in recent months amid concerns in the West over Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's efforts to consolidate power in the crisis-stricken country. 

The administration also imposed new sanctions on Venezuela in July after Maduro called for a vote to rewrite the country's constitution, a move widely seen as an attempt to consolidate power.