In recent days, North America reeled over the possibly incoming five percent tariffs on all exports from Mexico into the United States that President Donald Trump had threatened as a punitive response to ongoing undocumented immigration over the southern U.S. border. Trump has announced that those tariff plans are “indefinitely suspended,” but the actions Mexico agreed to take that sparked that suspension were largely already agreed to in recent months, according to officials from both countries speaking to The New York Times.
The revelation is yet another major undercut to the president’s story of what’s supposedly really going on at the border. Not only is the security crisis Trump routinely angrily points to not present, but the responses that supposedly paint Trump as the savior of American integrity — or whatever — aren’t what they seem, either.
The deal Mexico struck with the U.S. preceding Trump’s tariff plans getting suspended included a couple of key points, like a deployment of thousands of Mexican national guard troops to their own southern border in an attempt to deter migrants from traveling through to seek asylum in the United States. The thing is, though — in March of this year, during “secret talks” in Miami between then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Mexican Secretary of the Interior Olga Sanchez, Mexican authorities had already agreed to deploy troops to confront streams of migrants. In fact, in the time since, some have already even been deployed, but not as quickly as the Trump administration would like. The Times does note that Mexico’s “promise to deploy up to 6,000 national guard troops was larger than their previous pledge,” but the framework being touted was already in place all the same.
The framework was also already in place for another key part of the supposedly “new” agreement between the U.S. and Mexico that Trump pointed to as justification for suspending his tariff plans. All the way back in December, Mexico agreed to a U.S. plan for some asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their claims to be processed, a plan proceeding under what then-Secretary Nielsen unveiled as the “Migrant Protection Protocols.” That scheme was temporarily suspended via court order but has since been allowed to proceed, and officials familiar with the plan told The Times that those behind it “always envisioned that it would expand along the entire border” — in other words, there’s little new here. So far, only three of the busiest ports of entry to the United States had sent asylum seekers back into Mexico, which as part of their “new” agreement would expand provisions of “jobs, health care, and education.”
Besides these points that make Trump’s supposed great new victory seem hollow at best, The Times also shared that U.S. negotiators failed on a key point during recent negotiations, proving unable to get Mexico to agree to serve as a “safe third country” in which asylum seekers would be expected to take long-term refuge before heading to the U.S.
The Trump administration moving forward with a tariff plan suspension could be because of political pressure, considering despite him pronouncing the idea of Republicans blocking the move as “foolish,” significant segments of Senate Republicans had already come out in strong opposition, considering ways to legally upend the plans.
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