President Donald Trump’s deputies were surprised when his hard-line stance and tariff strategy caused Mexico to finally accept the “Remain in Mexico” policy, said the Associated Press.
“U.S. officials were … surprised when talks resumed Thursday and Mexico agreed to some of the things [Vice President Mike] Pence had put on the table, including an expansion of a program that forces some asylum-seekers to return to Mexico as they wait for their cases to be adjudicated,” the AP wrote Sunday, adding:
Mexican officials also expressed an openness to discussing something they had long opposed: having Mexico become a “safe third country,” which would make it harder for asylum-seekers who pass through the country to claim refuge in the U.S.
The “Remain in Mexico” policy allows border agencies to end the “catch-and-release” policy imposed by Congress and the courts. Instead of being released to walk into U.S. workplaces to take jobs at very low wages, the migrants will be sent back to Mexico until they can be bussed to their asylum court hearings in the United States. The return policy will likely wreck the cartels’ labor trafficking business, which depends on migrants getting U.S. jobs to repay their smuggling debts.
Prior to the deal, Mexico kept the program at very low levels. For example, only about 10,000 migrants have been sent back to Mexico, out of roughly 330,000 that crossed the border in the last three months.
The AP noted that Trump assigned the lead role in the talks to his White House lawyer, not to his agency officials or their staff:
Conversations continued Friday during a marathon session at the State Department led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, with Trump briefed by phone aboard Air Force One.
Trump made the final call, after periodically pushing negotiators in private and in public via Twitter, said AP:
A final decision was made during an evening conference call once Trump return to the White House on Friday evening, and shortly thereafter he fired off his tweet announcing the deal.
Trump’s claim of credit for the win is also backed up by the reaction from Mexico’s top officials, who are not claiming a win in the talks but are celebrating their avoidance of tariffs. In a Saturday speech to his supporters in Tijuana, according to the Guardian, Mexico’s president defended the deal:
[President] López Obrador said: “We’re celebrating yesterday’s important agreement because it was putting us in a very difficult situation with these tariffs because we would have had to impose the same measures on US products.”
“What follows? Keeping our commitments: reinforcing our [southern] border, applying the law and respecting the human rights” of migrants.
Mexico’s foreign minister and chief negotiator on the tariffs, Marcelo Ebrard, also spoke at the rally: “We didn’t win everything, but we were able to claim a victory with there being no tariffs.”
He added that the country had emerged with its “dignity intact”.
Mexican journalists gave credit to Trump:
Why Trump’s blackmail worked pic.twitter.com/zfFbukCJns
— José Díaz-Briseño (@diazbriseno) June 8, 2019
The AP’s report that administration officials were surprised by Mexico’s cooperation — and also the reaction from Mexico — undermines the much-touted claim by Democrats and the establishment media that the deal contains little new or useful.
“It also clearly was a political setback for the president because he didn’t get everything he wanted,” Washington Post reporter Anne Gearan told Fox News June 9.
“Mexico Agreed to Take Border Actions Months before Trump Announced Tariff Deal,” the New York Times said.
On Sunday, Trump used Twitter to slap the NYT‘s nothing-new-happened claim:
The Failing @nytimes story on Mexico and Illegal Immigration through our Southern Border has now been proven shockingly false and untrue, bad reporting, and the paper is embarrassed by it. The only problem is that they knew it was Fake News before it went out. Corrupt Media!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2019
Like the establishment media, many Democrats argued Trump’s deal did nothing — but other Democrats argued that it did too much.
“I think the president has completely overblown what he reports to have achieved. These are agreements that Mexico had already made, in some cases months ago,” said Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke.
“They might have accelerated the time table, but by and large the president achieved nothing except to jeopardize the most important trading relationship that the United States of America has,” he told ABC’s The Week June 9.
But a statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the deal will block migrants from seeking asylum:
We are deeply disappointed by the Administration’s expansion of its failed Remain-in-Mexico policy, which violates the rights of asylum seekers under U.S. law and fails to address the root causes of Central American migration.
The Democrats’ contradictory reactions are shaped by a common hope that Trump’s migration policy will hurt him in 2020, regardless of their efforts to preserve the migration into Americans’ workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods.
For example, Neera Tanden, president of the left-wing Center for American Progress, told Fox News that a Trump failure to block the migrants should be counted as a failure in 2020:
I think the issue here for the president is now he’s an incumbent and when he faces reelection, he’s going to have a set of facts. The set of facts are that there are more border crossings now than there were two or three years ago, and that his policies — so far — have not succeeded. He argued — in fact, I will make — he argued to the American people, his administration argued, family separation would be a strategy that succeeds, and it has so far not succeeded. Now, he’s trying to do these things with Mexico.
Trump needs to adopt the Democrats’ border policies, she said:
The strategy that would actually work and did actually have results at the end of the Obama administration was dealing with these countries and their problems internally and trying to support actually keeping their economies working where they are.
Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university.
But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately one million H-1B workers — and approximately 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.
The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.
This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.
This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations. It also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions. The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the heartland to the coastal cities, explodes rents and housing costs, shrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.