President Trump announced Friday via Twitter that his administration has struck a new deal with Mexico to help stem the flow of illegal border crossers entering the United States along the Southern border. Illegal border crossings are near historical highs after Border Patrol officers reported more than 130,000 apprehensions during the month of May.
As a result of the deal, President Trump said that his plan to impose a new set of tariffs on Mexico will be "indefinitely suspended." This news comes after the President announced that negotiations between Mexico and the United States had ended in a "signed agreement" with Mexico agreeing to take "strong measures to stem the tide of Migration" through their country. Mexico decided to send 6,000 troops from its newly formed National Guard to its southern border in an attempt to slow the flow of immigrants through Mexico into the United States. However, the Mexican Government emphasized that this agreement does not include the country becoming a "safe third country" as initially requested by the Trump Administration. Under such an arrangement, Central American immigrants would be required to seek asylum in Mexico if they are to pass through that country en route to the United States.
On Friday night, Mexico's Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard lauded the deal as a fair and balanced compromise:
They [The U.S.] proposed in the first meeting to have [a] third safe state, which is not the case here. I think it's a fair balance because they had more drastic measures proposed at the start and we agreed to some middle point.
Minister Ebrard then stressed the U.S. commitment to promote development in several Central American countries, a program cut by the Trump Administration in March, in an attempt to attack the root causes of mass immigration and asylum seekers. However, Minister Ebrard did not cite a specific dollar amount, despite repeated questioning, as reported by Politico. The joint statement, released Friday, also did not include any mention to new or restored funding commitments.
As part of the agreement, the State Department pledged that it would expand its "remain in Mexico" program across the entirety of the southern border. Under this program, many immigrants from Central America will be required to wait in Mexico until a decision has been made pertaining to their asylum cases. A spokesperson from the State Department explained:
This means that those crossing the U.S. southern border to seek asylum will be rapidly returned to Mexico where they may await the adjudication of their asylum claims.
Nevertheless, as President Trump celebrated the U.S. Mexico agreement, his actions received a harsh rebuttal from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. As reported by CNN, in a statement released Saturday, Speaker Pelosi bashed President Trump's negotiating tactics, stating the President:
Undermined America's preeminent leadership role in the world by recklessly threatening to impose tariffs on our close friend and neighbor to the south. Adding, Congress will hold the White House accountable for its failure to address the humanitarian situation at our southern border. We are deeply disappointed by the Administration's expansion of its failed Remain-in-Mexico policy, which violates the rights of asylum seekers under U.S. law and fails to address the root causes of Central American migration.
The "remain in Mexico" program remains the subject of ongoing litigation in the U.S. federal courts. In May of this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit allowed the program to proceed on a temporary basis, despite a lower court decision to block it only a few months earlier.
According to the Washington Examiner, Mexican National Guard troops have already begun the apprehension process of many Central American immigrants traveling through Mexico towards the United States. Local Mexican media outlets reported Sunday of an operation to target foreigners hitching a ride on a freight train known as "The Beast," a common mode of transportation used by migrants to shorten the trip through Mexico. The operation marks the first of its kind since the U.S. Mexico agreement was reached, despite the use of trains for this specific purpose being illegal in the country since 2014. Recent enforcement is being touted as a sign of good faith that Mexico plans to keep its side of the bargain. However, President Trump has threatened that if they do not, "We can always go back to our previous, very profitable, position of Tariffs."
Despite the moderate public relations victory currently being celebrated by the President, many are still concerned that the joint agreement reached between the U.S. and Mexico still does not do enough to halt the massive influx of immigrants coming to the United States illegally. Customs and Border Patrol has reported over half a million apprehensions of illegal aliens in the first half of 2019 alone. While the information currently available to the public about the recent agreement does not show many new initiatives between the two countries, President Trump remains optimistic this will not be the end of talks with Mexico as both countries work to further stem the flow of immigrants from Central America. Mexico appears to agree with this conclusion as Martha Barcena Coqui stated Sunday that she expects the U.S. and Mexico "will continue to have technical talks almost weekly," on the topic of immigration.
Updated: Mon, Jun 24th 2019 @ 12:30pm EDT