Trump's hardball on working

Risky as President Trump's tariff threat tactic on Mexico is, it appears to be...working.

Trump's hardball has gotten Mexico to deploy some serious measures to keep the migrant surge into the U.S. from becoming a flood.  Somehow, a trade treaty works best when there's a security treaty underlying it, and Mexico thus far seems to recognize this.  The markets, by the way, are noticing.

According to Fox News:

Reports in the evening indicated that Mexico's negotiators with Washington have offered to immediately deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to the border with Guatemala. Additionally, Mexico has reportedly agreed to a major overhaul of reasonable asylum protocols, which would require asylum applicants to seek permanent refuge in the first country they arrive in after fleeing their home countries.


Also on Thursday, Mexico's financial intelligence agency announced it had frozen the bank accounts of 26 people who it claimed "have presumably participated in migrant smuggling and the organization of illegal migrant caravans."

The agency said it had detected money transfers from central Mexico to six Mexican border cities presumably related to the caravans.

Here's another one, a particularly satisfying one cited by Breitbart:

Mexican authorities arrested two men suspected of promoting and organizing the migrant caravans that moved thousands of migrants from Central America to the U.S. border. Officials claim that the two men demanded money from Central American migrants in exchange for getting them illegally into the U.S.

Mexico's Attorney General's Office announced the arrest of Irineo Mujica and Cristobal Sanchez during operations in the border state of Sonora and in Mexico City. Mexican officials only identified the two men by their first names.  Authorities have charged the two men with human smuggling. In the case of Irineo Mujica, authorities have added the additional penalties of child smuggling.

So it turns out these guys were making money from caravan shakedowns all along, even as they browbeat America into accepting these migrants' entry into the States under the phony narrative of humanitarian need.  The only need they had was for cash to keep rolling into their bank accounts, and Mexico's authorities knew this all along. 

All of these acts, if sustained, really could place a dent on the migrant surge, which has since gone global as Europe cracks down on migrant surges, and Mexico and the U.S. become the new fulcrum.  

Why is it working?  Probably four reasons:

One, Mexico's economy is already doing poorly, posting less than one percent growth in the past year.  Elect a socialist; expect the Obama Effect on the economy, and not too long ago, Mexico elected socialist Andrés Manuel López-Obrador on the flawed voter logic that electing an open socialist would make things better.  Such decisions never do, but unlike Obama, AMLO is under pressure to restore economic growth anyway.  The 5% tariffs, projected to rise to 25% over the course of months without a migration and security deal with the U.S., are expected to cost $800 billion in trade overall, and that's got to be terrifying to Mexico.  Both economies will suffer if Trump's tariffs go through, but Mexico's will suffer more.

Two: What the heck does Mexico gain by allowing its country to become a welcome mat for human-smugglers and cartels?  Cartels are hell on Mexico's economy and a font of corruption.  AMLO thus far appears to be a man who isn't corrupt, and Mexico's voters elected him for that reason.  But allowing corruption to go on, with cartel bank accounts fattened by migrant fees and officials paid off, pretty well runs counter to that narrative.  AMLO's popularity, by the way, is falling, so you can imagine the pressure he's under.  The other thing is, migrant caravans and human-smuggling waves are not popular with the Mexican public, and it's not just Tijuana that's protesting.  Here's a tweet to the New York Times from a Mexican to give the paper that reminder:

Three, Republicans in Congress don't like tariffs; Democrats have been the traditional standard-bearers for that, at least since World War II.  Trump's pickup of the idea did bring resistance in the GOP-led Senate, particularly with the U.S. already in a trade showdown with China and many states, such as farm-heavy Midwestern states, especially vulnerable to tariff retaliation on their own produce.  There were warnings of a veto override from some GOP quarters a few days ago.  But that seems to have fallen apart.  Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a more libertarian-leaning senator who sometimes goes against the grain, actually warned Mexico that the tariff threat is real and the Senate won't be able to stop it.  If you were on Mexico's side and got a call from a principled free trade ally like that, wouldn't it get your attention?

Four, the legal picture for Trump's tariffs looks airtight.  Lefty judges won't be free to run circles around Trump on this, Bloomberg News looked into this and made a strong, pessimistic case for all of the possible ways to stop tariffs through legal means — whether through Chamber of Commerce lawsuits or World Trade Organization mediation, or even congressional action — and concludes that "there may be no stopping them before Monday."  The lefty press is full of wishful thinking on how things can go badly for Trump.  Apparently, Bloomberg heard a case so strong to counter it that it had no choice but to report the bad news here.

In politics, not everything makes sense, and it's always possible that Mexico isn't sincere about halting the border surge and actually enjoys watching the U.S. borders become meaningless.  But the signs are there that it's moving the other way.  Let's keep fingers crossed that a deal is reached and the surge is stopped, with cartels, human-smugglers, moochers, and leftists the only real losers in the deal.

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