America and Mexico have strong partnership in the age of Trump

America and Mexico have strong partnership in the age of Trump
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When it comes to U.S.-Mexico relations in the age of Trump, media coverage portrays a partnership on the rocks. Yet, a dispassionate and deeper dive shows the bilateral relationship to be on a positive trajectory. Just last month, Mexico’s foreign minister stated that the relationship now is “closer than it was with previous [U.S.] administrations, which might be surprising to some people but that’s a fact of life.” These words do not seem to be empty rhetoric.

In June 2017, the Trump administration and the Mexican government co-hosted a two-day, high-level conference on security and prosperity in Central America. The U.S. delegation was led by Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceSimon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp defends Pence book deal: report Gohmert says Jan. 6 mob attack on Capitol not an 'armed insurrection' House Democrats unveil .9 billion bill to boost security after insurrection MORE, with Cabinet members Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHouse passes legislation to elevate cybersecurity at the State Department Biden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet With salami-slicing and swarming tactics, China's aggression continues MORE, John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE and Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE also in attendance.

High-level visits and meetings have continued in both countries. While still secretary of State, Tillerson visited Mexico twice. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan has done so, too. The majority of U.S. Cabinet officials have also visited our southern neighbor. This not even factoring in the amount of time White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerNew Kushner group aims to promote relations between Arab states, Israel Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process Iran moves closer to a diplomatic breakthrough that may upset Israel MORE has spent with the highest levels of the Mexican government.

Cabinet officials of Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto frequent D.C. as well. Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray in particular has close relationships with the Trump administration and was recently hosted by three U.S. Cabinet members, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and other senior officials. As for the North American Free Trade Agreement, doomsday predictions insisted that President TrumpDonald TrumpVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected Biden meets with DACA recipients on immigration reform Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers MORE would have shredded it by now. Instead, the three parties are closer than ever on reconciling disagreements and will meet for the eighth round of talks next month.

Even the tone toward Mexico has shifted. During his recent visit to California to view the border wall prototypes, President Trump said, “Cooperation with Mexico is another crucial element of border security. [The Department of Homeland Security] coordinates closely with the Mexican law enforcement, and we must absolutely build on that cooperation…I have a great relationship with the president of Mexico, a wonderful guy, Enrique…We're trying to work things out.”

This was shortly after unconditionally exempting Mexico from steel and aluminum tariffs. Cooperation on a range of issues has seen a meaningful uptick as well. Working alongside the Trump administration and other regional partners, Mexico has emerged as a leader in the coalition known as the Lima Group. Mexico has also led efforts on Venezuela at the Organization of American States and are coordinating with the United States on North Korea. Mexico’s expulsion of the North Korean ambassador last fall represented a significant escalation by the Mexicans.

The facts speak for themselves. Mexico is engaged in an unprecedented level of cooperation with the United States. Last January, one of us wrote that “President Trump’s ‘America First’ strategy means that Donald Trump intends to act in the best interests of the United States. Our friends and allies should find this course reassuring rather than threatening. Few things are more important than having friendly, prosperous and secure neighbors on both sides of the border.”

This past year has proven that assertion correct. As with any relationship, there will always be areas of disagreement including differences that are aired publicly. That is a natural consequence of relations between two democracies. Yet, indicators point toward a bright future. The frequent visits, meetings and exchanges on issues unrelated to NAFTA reflect a strategy in development. No one should discount a significant announcement in the near future. Hopefully by then, there will be more truth-telling in the media’s U.S.-Mexico narrative.

Ana Quintana is a policy analyst specializing in Latin American issues at the Allison Center for Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation. James Jay Carafano is a vice president in charge of national security and foreign policy research at The Heritage Foundation.