President Donald Trump said on Monday that the United States is working on a second deal with Mexico to curb migration to the United States. If the Mexican government fails to sign on, Trump warned, new tariffs will be imposed on the country.
But according to Mexico, this second deal doesn’t exist.
Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s top diplomat, said at a news conference in Mexico City Monday that there is no secret immigration deal. He added that both countries would monitor the flow of migrants before making any other policy decisions.
“Let’s have a deadline to see if what we have works and if not, then we will sit down and look at the measures you propose and those that we propose,” Ebrard said, according to the New York Times.
Hours earlier, Trump claimed on Twitter that the United States and Mexico have “fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years.”
The agreement, which has now been debunked by top Mexican officials, would have theoretically needed to be voted on in the Mexican legislature. If the “vote” failed, “tariffs will be reinstated,” Trump said.
….We do not anticipate a problem with the vote but, if for any reason the approval is not forthcoming, Tariffs will be reinstated!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 10, 2019
Just three days ago, Trump announced that the two countries had reached an agreement and that U.S. tariffs on all Mexican imports would not go into effect as planned. Trump had originally called for tariffs of 5% on all Mexican imports beginning June 10 — which would gradually increase to 25% by October — unless Mexico did more to stop migrants from reaching the southern U.S. border.
“The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended,” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday evening. “Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to….stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border.”
That deal, however, did not call for new policies — and the press were quick to point this out. That may be why Trump is now mentioning a new deal in the works.
As part of Friday’s deal, Mexico will take “strong measures” towards enforcement and deploy members of its National Guard to its southern border with Guatemala. Mexico also vowed to expand Migrant Protection Protocols — also known as “Remain in Mexico” — to other ports of entry along the Mexican border. Remain in Mexico is a U.S. policy that requires Central American migrants to stay in Mexico while their asylum cases play out in the U.S. immigration court system.
Both issues, however, have already been actively addressed by the Mexican government. Mexico began deploying its National Guard to the border over a year ago, and the Remain in Mexico policy has already been expanded to multiple ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border. Currently, over 10,000 Central American migrants have been returned to Mexico after applying for asylum in the United States.
When The New York Times published a story Sunday outlining how Mexico was already cooperating with the United States before the threat of tariffs, Trump accused the “failing” outlet of “sick journalism” and resumed tariff threats against Mexico.
Additionally, while Trump victoriously announced that the deal reached between the two countries would result in Mexico purchasing more agricultural goods from the United States, Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States Martha Bárcena appeared on CBS News’ Face the Nation Sunday all but debunking that claim entirely.
“You have to remember that last year we were the third trade partner; we are now the first so we are your most important market and you are our most important market,” Barcena said.
“Is trade on agricultural products going to grow? Yes, it is going to grow and it is going to grow without tariffs and with USMCA ratification,” she added, referring to the trade deal between the United States, Mexico, and Canada, seen as the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
When pressed by host Margaret Brennan on whether there was any specific agreement by the Mexican government to buy additional U.S. agricultural products, Bárcena continued to sidestep.
“But there was no transaction that was signed off on as part of this deal is what I understand you’re saying,” Brennan said. “You’re talking about trade.”
A reluctant Bárcena replied, “I’m talking about trade and I am absolutely certain that the trade in agricultural goods will increase dramatically in the next few months.”
What the Trump administration really wants from Mexico is a “safe third country” agreement which would force migrants to apply for asylum there rather than in the United States. Mexico has been reluctant to cooperate with the United States on that front, citing lack of resources. Immigration activists claim such a policy will expose vulnerable Central American migrants to more harm.