President Trump dropped his threat to impose a 5% tariff on Mexican imports Friday after negotiators in Washington reached a deal to reduce the flow of migrants into the United States.
The tariff had been set to go into effect on Monday.
The joint declaration released by the US and Mexico describes Mexico’s plans to send up to 6,000 National Guard troops to patrol its southern border with Guatemala.
In return, the United States has agreed to accelerate existing projects in Central America and Southern Mexico. The plan also enables the US to send more asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims are being processed. During their stay in Mexico, the migrants will find expanded opportunities for employment, education, and healthcare.
“Bottom line is Mexico has to keep asylum seekers temporarily but not permanently,” says Latin America expert Shannon O’Neil. “The rest are vague generalities to be rehashed at the end of the summer.”
Trump on Twitter said the deal includes plans for Mexico to immediately start buying more agricultural products from “our patriot farmers,” but the full text has not been released.
Even before the deal, Mexico had demonstrated its commitment to reducing the flow of migration into the United States.
During the past six months, Mexican authorities arrested 80,000 people on immigration violations (an increase of more than 30%). Mexico has also ordered public transportation operators to stop ferrying migrants, and is on track to accept 60,000 asylum requests in 2019.
“They’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” says Frank Mora, a Latin America expert at Florida International University. “They’re not, as the president says, ‘sitting on their hands.’ In fact, they have ramped up their efforts to stopping or deporting migrants.”
All told, Mexico expects to block 250,000 people from reaching the US border in 2019.
“If we have success with the measures we’re taking, there’s no reason to think that the numbers [of migrants] will continue as they have been,” said Mexican Foreign Sec. Marcelo Ebrard.
CPB agents set a new record in April when they detained more than 58,000 members of family units. Last week, agents set another record when they detained a group of more than 1,000 migrants near El Paso.
Friday’s deal includes a warning that threatens ‘additional measures’ if Mexico fails to curb the flow of migrants. Officials have 90 days to discuss and implement changes to the agreement.
Editor’s note: Mexico is not there yet, they need to increase by at least a factor of five to make a real contribution.
But this shows that Trump’s arm twisting is effective. U.S. leaders have been reluctant to negotiate hard with erstwhile allies, especially those of the third world, for fear of being seen as a bully. But we have been accused of being a bully anyway, even with the utmost care. So is it refreshing to see Trump negotiate with America first in his mind.