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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Mexico

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

When President Donald Trump announced last week that he would not be imposing tariffs on Mexican goods being imported to the United States as he had threatened, he said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government had agreed to major concessions on refugee policy.

The New York Times quickly pointed out that the concessions the governments had agreed to had already been established months before, making it look like Trump had simply backed down from an empty threat. But Trump insisted this was wrong. There was, he said, a secret additional agreement with Mexico that included even more significant concessions.

And on Tuesday, Trump even waved around a folded piece of paper in front of reporters, claiming it was the secret deal. One intrepid reporter took a close-up shot of the paper, and because of the sunlight shining through it, parts of the text were visible. I suggested that, though it wasn’t entirely clear what the deal amounted to, the visible text indicated it was mostly vague promises.

On Friday, Mexico actually released the full page of text, as Bloomberg’s’ Mexico Bureau Chief Carlos Manuel Rodríguez reported:

So what does it all amount to? As I had inferred, there’s little substance to the agreement. It simply was an agreement to enter into further talks with the United States about a potential deal that would force Mexico to accept and process any refugees who came through Mexico from a third country to the southern U.S. border. This is a big priority for the Trump administration, and indications thus far have been that Mexico does not want to agree to this policy. If Trump could actually get this deal, he would claim it as a major win.

But an agreement to talk about another potential agreement is not really a substantive concession from Mexico, which explains why Trump kept this part of the agreement secret for so long. At best, it’s smoke and mirrors that could potentially precede a real development — at worst, it’s yet another country showing it can string Trump along to get its way.

IMAGE: Speaking with reporters, President Trump brandished “secret” letter of agreement with the Government of Mexico on June 11, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

During a Monday press conference, Mexico’s foreign secretary Marcelo Ebrard said there is no secret immigration deal with the United States, directly contradicting Trump claim that there was.

Ebrard said Mexico is working with the United Nations to establish a regional asylum and refuge system in cooperation with Guatemala, Panama, and Brazil.

“They wanted something else totally different … to be signed,” Ebrard said Monday. “But that is what there is here. There is no other thing beyond what I have just explained.”

Ebrard’s statement flies in the face of Trump’s recent comment about a secret immigration deal he signed with Mexico.

“We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years,” Trump said Monday morning, apparently making up a nonexistent secret signed agreement with Mexico. “It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico’s Legislative body!”

According to the New York Times, administration officials said Trump may have been referring to an agreement by the two countries to discuss the migration situation again in 45 days and then again in 90 days.

The U.S. and Mexico have been in discussion about immigration recently because in late May Trump threatened to put a five percent tariff on all goods coming from Mexico unless all “illegal immigration” coming into the U.S. from the southern border stopped.

Trump’s tariff proposal was almost universally panned as economically harmful, and even some (but not allRepublican Senators came out against the idea.

After a significant amount of bluster from Trump, he eventually caved, agreeing not to institute tariffs for the time being.

Trump withdrew his trade war threat without any new or significant concessions from Mexico; instead, the Mexican government reiterated promises it made months ago.

But Trump apparently could not leave well enough alone and decided to pretend that there was some sort of secret immigration deal he struck. There is no evidence of any secret deal, and Mexico’s foreign secretary rejected any such notion.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

IMAGE: Migrants get off a bus, after they were deported from Mexico, at the main migration center in San Salvador, El Salvador April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas