Mexico agreed to take action at border months before Trump deal to avert tariffs: NYT

President Trump’s deal with Mexico on Friday to drop plans to impose sweeping tariffs on the country in exchange for Mexico’s promise to crack down on illegal migration is reportedly made up largely of actions that Mexican officials had already agreed to in discussions over the past several months, The New York Times reported Saturday. 

According to the Times, officials from both countries said Mexico’s agreement on Friday to deploy its national guard throughout Mexico, “giving priority to its southern border,” had already been promised in March during secret discussions with then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Olga Sanchez, the Mexican secretary of the interior, in Miami.

Officials told the Times that the central part of Friday’s deal, which expanded the program permitting asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims are processed, was also agreed upon before Friday’s announcement. The Times noted that the Migrant Protection Protocols were announced in December by Nielsen during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.{mosads}

The Times reported that it was not immediately clear whether Trump believes Friday’s deal represents new concessions or whether his embrace of the agreement was an attempt to avoid possible negative political and economic ramifications from imposing steep tariffs on Mexico.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

Trump had hailed the deal early Saturday, voicing optimism about Mexico’s efforts to curtail illegal immigration to the U.S.

The president said the country “will try very hard, and if they do that, this will be a very successful agreement for both the United States and Mexico!” Trump also asserted that, despite some positive reviews, “there has nevertheless been much false reporting (surprise!) by the Fake and Corrupt News Media,” though he did not specify what reporting he considered to be false.

Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico drew strong bipartisan pushback from lawmakers who cautioned that such a move would hurt U.S. economic growth and undermine a push to ratify a trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

He had threatened late last month to impose a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods starting Monday, with the duties rising to 25 percent by October. However, Trump declared Friday evening that tariffs would be “indefinitely suspended” after Mexico agreed to take steps to prevent the flow of migrants toward the U.S. border.

The Times noted that Trump agreed not to impose the tariffs and to accept Mexico’s promises nine days after his initial threat.

The paper reported that some American officials, including Trump, reportedly remain skeptical about whether Mexico has agreed to enough and whether it will uphold its promises. Some have also reportedly questioned if such promises will reduce the number of people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Migrant Protection Protocols also face legal challenges from immigrant rights groups who have accused them of infringing on migrants’ rights to legal representation, the Times notes. 

Aides reportedly cautioned Trump that migrants would continue to trek to the border, despite reaching an agreement with Mexico to curtail the number of people migrating north. 

One official told the newspaper that Trump could try to renegotiate if the number of migrants crossing the southern border doesn’t diminish quickly.

“The tariff threat is not gone,” the official reportedly said. “It’s suspended.”

Updated 5:40 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Kirstjen Nielsen
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