President Trump shakes the big stick at Mexico
President Trump walked hard and carried a big stick this week to bludgeon Mexico into honoring its January 2019 deal to halt illegal immigrants at its southern border.
As a key implementation requirement in President Trump’s October 2018 restructure of NAFTA, a side deal titled the Migrant Protection Protocols was subsequently signed by newly inaugurated Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in January 2019.
The MPP committed Mexico to increase security along its border with Guatemala and to shelter returned illegal aliens caught sneaking across the U.S. Southern Border “for the duration of their immigration proceedings.”
But despite what he agreed to, Obrador was enjoying a record Mexican approval rate of 78 percent for his perceived willingness withstand U.S. coercion by President Trump.
Mexico’s Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero stated in February that Mexico’s southern border stretched 540 miles, crossing three rivers and passing through hills and jungle. He warned that with at least 370 illegal crossing points, increasing security could risk hurting trade and weakening the economy of the nation’s most impoverished region.
But the Obrador administration had already slashed Mexico’s 2019 Refugee Commission budget for immigrant housing and related support by -20 percent, to politically fund more social outlays, such as increased payments to the elderly.
As a result, the southern Mexican states had even less shelters and facilities to host all the migrants coming into Mexico. The National Immigration Institute started allowing detained asylum seekers to leave the shelters where they were supposed be housed for weeks or months as immigration officials processed U.S. asylum applications.
Mexico refused to bring the army in to control the southern border, because Central American immigrants are not the nation’s biggest security threats. With record levels of violence, Mexico has deployed its military against rampant organized crime.
The Mexican drug cartels smuggle cocaine from Colombia through Central America, then cross into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Increased Central American human trafficking has been profitable and served to cover for cartel drug smuggling operations.
A national poll on June 1 and 2 by El Financiero found that 84 percent of Mexicans believe that the nation “should remain united and support” President Lopez Obrador's opposition to President Trump's threats. But with Mexico suffering a negative -.02 percent gross domestic product in the first quarter, President Lopez Obrador had no political appetite to suffer the recession that would come from President Trump’s tariffs.
The June 7 agreement with the U.S. commits Mexico to expanded ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ implementation across borders as a whole. According to the agreement:
“This means that those crossing the U.S. Southern Border to seek asylum will be rapidly returned to Mexico where they may await the adjudication of their asylum claims.”