This frame grab from video provided by Televisa, shows migrants bound for the U.S.-Mexico border waiting on a bridge that stretches over the Suchiate River, connecting Guatemala and Mexico, in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. The gated entry into Mexico via the bridge has been closed. The U.S. president has made it clear to Mexico that he is monitoring its response. On Thursday he threatened to close the U.S. border if Mexico didn’t stop the caravan. (Televisa via AP)

 

President Trump announced on Friday night that he has “indefinitely suspended” the tariffs on Mexican imports into the U.S. that were due to go into effect on Monday. He sent the following tweet:

I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to….stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard confirmed the agreement in the following tweets.

Translation of Ebrard’s tweets:

There will be no application of rates by the US on Monday. Thanks to all the people who have supported us, giving an account of the greatness of Mexico.

We are reaching an agreement with the US, I am in the state department. In a few minutes I will give details to the media.

The State Department published a U.S. – Mexico Joint Declaration which can be viewed at the end of this post. Here are the highlights.

Mexico has agreed to take measures to stem the flow of Central Americans from traveling through their country to reach the U.S.  The country has agreed to “take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement.” This will include deploying its National Guard throughout the country and taking decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations.

The U.S. will “rapidly return” asylum seekers to Mexico where “they may await the adjudication of their asylum claims.”

Discussions will continue over the next 90 days at which point a final agreement will be reached.

According to Reuters, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said his “team had resisted the United States’ requests to send deported Guatemalans to Mexico” and that “he was satisfied with the deal.” Ebrard told reporters, “I think it’s a fair balance because they had more drastic measures and proposals at the start and we reached some middle point.”

Last week, acting DHS secretary Kevin McAleenan said the U.S. had three goals. The first two were addressed in Friday night’s agreement. “First is tightening security on Mexico’s border with Guatemala and chokepoints in southern Mexico (such as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec). Second is targeting the smuggling organizations. The logistical effort to move 100,000 people through a country every four weeks is immense. This is noticeable.”

The third, which was not addressed in the declaration, was a “safe third party” agreement. This is an issue that both Trump and Pence had been looking for in any agreement with Mexico.  McAleenan said, “We need to be able to protect people in the first safe country they arrive in — really, all through the hemisphere, but certainly with our partner to the south.”

The National Review’s Mark Krikorian explains:

In other words, the administration wants Mexico to sign a “safe third country” agreement, whereby foreigners who pass through Mexico would not be permitted even to apply for asylum at the U.S. border, and Mexico would agree to take them back, because if they were genuinely fleeing persecution, they should have applied in the first safe country they reached. As Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation wrote last fall about one of the migrant caravans, “ignoring Mexico’s asylum process is prima facie evidence that a claim for asylum in the U.S. is bogus.”

I assume this issue will be addressed as talks continue over the next 90 days. A safe third country agreement is the most important and consequential of the U.S. goals.

Still, this is an enormous triumph for President Trump who was widely criticized for offering an ultimatum to Mexico. Even many Republicans had been calling for him to walk back his threat over the last week. But he stood strong and Mexico caved.

Predictably, the President’s many enemies downplayed the outcome of Trump’s power play last night.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke of Texas tweeted: “The damage of Trump’s reckless trade policies and tariffs has already been done. What we see is yet another example of him trying to be both the arsonist who created this problem in the first place and the firefighter who wants credit for addressing it.”

Ned Price, former Obama administration spokesman for the National Security Council, tweeted: “He’s so predictable. It’s a simple recipe: —Manufacture a crisis on an issue of importance to the base. —Leave success undefined. —Pretend to play hardball in a way that rallies the base. —“Solve” the manufactured crisis. —Disguise the status quo as a “huge success.”

Well, Mr. Price, this is a “huge success” for the President.

As a result of these discussions, the United States and Mexico commit to:

Mexican Enforcement Surge

Mexico will take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration, to include the deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border. Mexico is also taking decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks. Additionally, the United States and Mexico commit to strengthen bilateral cooperation, including information sharing and coordinated actions to better protect and secure our common border.

Migrant Protection Protocols

The United States will immediately expand the implementation of the existing Migrant Protection Protocols across its entire Southern Border.

In response, Mexico will authorize the entrance of all of those individuals for humanitarian reasons, in compliance with its international obligations, while they await the adjudication of their asylum claims. Mexico will also offer jobs, healthcare and education according to its principles.

The United States commits to work to accelerate the adjudication of asylum claims and to conclude removal proceedings as expeditiously as possible.

Further Actions

Both parties also agree that, in the event the measures adopted do not have the expected results, they will take further actions. Therefore, the United States and Mexico will continue their discussions on the terms of additional understandings to address irregular migrant flows and asylum issues, to be completed and announced within 90 days, if necessary.

Ongoing Regional Strategy

The United States and Mexico reiterate their previous statement of December 18, 2018, that both countries recognize the strong links between promoting development and economic growth in southern Mexico and the success of promoting prosperity, good governance and security in Central America. The United States and Mexico welcome the Comprehensive Development Plan launched by the Government of Mexico in concert with the Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to promote these goals. The United States and Mexico will lead in working with regional and international partners to build a more prosperous and secure Central America to address the underlying causes of migration, so that citizens of the region can build better lives for themselves and their families at home.