WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and his allies on Sunday declared victory in the tariffs standoff with Mexico after the administration appeared to have secured significant commitments from the Mexican government to stem the flow of Central American migrants at the U.S. border.
The agreement gave Trump fresh ammunition against his critics, who have pointed out that his controversial negotiating tactics have yielded far fewer results than promised on multiple issues during his time in office.
Whether the deal will greatly reduce the number of migrants entering the United States remains to be seen. But it nonetheless represents a serious effort by Mexico to do more on an issue central to Trump's re-election campaign after he threatened to impose a 5% across-the-board tariff on one of the United States' top trading partners.
Mexico announced Friday night that it would implement "strong measures" to reduce the flow of migrants across its territory toward the southern U.S. border, including the unprecedented deployment of thousands of Mexican national guard troops. It also agreed to expand a program allowing Central American migrants to stay in Mexico while they await the adjudication of their asylum claims.
"The president put a charge in his whole dialogue with Mexico with the tariff threats, brought them to the table," Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." "The foreign minister of Mexico arrived within hours. He arrived the next day with real proposals on the table. This is the first time we've heard anything like this kind of number of law enforcement being deployed in Mexico to address migrations."
With arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border soaring and Trump lashing out – at Democrats, foreign governments and U.S. laws – Homeland Security officials are under enormous pressure to halt the migration boom. The Trump administration's efforts to deter migration have not worked, either being shot down in the courts or failing to get through Congress. And Mexican officials brushed off some of the president's earlier demands.
Trump's threat to impose tariffs on Mexico to gain leverage in immigration negotiations drew criticism from lawmakers in both major parties, who called it a dangerous escalation that could damage the U.S. economy.
But in some morning tweets, Trump said Mexico "was not being cooperative on the Border" before the deal reached Friday. Now, he said, "I have full confidence, especially after speaking to their President yesterday, that they will be very cooperative and want to get the job properly done."