According to the U.S authorities, Mexican tariffs are “suspended”. But for geopolitical experts, the situation is way more complex than it seems.
According to the New York Times, a secret meeting between Mexico and the United States happened in Miami a few months ago. Kirstjen Nielsen, the then U.S secretary of homeland security and Olga Sanchez Mexico’s secretary of the interior met and discussed tariffs.
On Friday, Mexico and the United States gave a joint speech where they agreed on a more intensive deployment of the National Guard, especially by its southern border.
However, negotiations are not over. Mexico has rejected the offer of the United States to sign a “safe third country” as it would reject asylum seekers.
An uncertain deal
While tariffs on China are purely based on business, Mexican tariffs are heavily focused on immigration. According to the New York Times, “The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed.”
As the newspaper explained, that agreement was already reached six months ago during confidential diplomatic meetings between Kirstjen Nielsen, the former U.S secretary of homeland security and Olga Sanchez Mexico’s secretary of the interior met and discussed tariffs.
Mexico talked Trump out of tariffs with migrant crackdown and broader measures if needed, officials and documents say https://t.co/1uqhbXYxFD
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 10, 2019
According to the Washington Post, Mexico’s decision was a major backlash against the Trump administration. In less than a week, Mexico refused to sign a so-called “safe third country treaty” that could reduce dramatically the number of asylum seekers to enter in the United States.
Everyone very excited about the new deal with Mexico!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2019
On the other side of the border, Donald Trump declared the agreement was as a success. He then thanked the president of Mexico for “working so long and hard” on a plan limiting Mexican immigration to the United States.
What are the tariffs?
While Donald Trump initially said that the tariffs would be at 5% and then escalating at 25%, it seems that the pressure from both sides – Democrats and Republicans – discouraged the White House to move forward.
President Trump defended his administration’s decision to threaten a number of trading partners like Mexico with tariffs, calling tariffs a “beautiful thing” https://t.co/hrbSJJZ0jZ
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 10, 2019
Imports from Mexico are major across the country: while they peak in Texas with more than $107 billion a year, Mexican imports are evaluated at $44 billion per year in California and $56.3 billion in Michigan. They are a crucial part of the American economy.
More national guard troops
Aside from the trade deal, Mexico has agreed to deploy more than 6,000 national guard troops, which was more than what was previously agreed back in December.
This strategy was approved by both countries to limit the increasing number of “catch and release” cases, where Mexican try to illegally cross the border and are released right after being caught crossing without a visa or a valid working permit.
Republicans and Trump’s aides also seemed skeptical as they think that these measures will not reduce illegal immigration. This comes months after Trump supporters were disappointed of learning than the project of building a wall between the two countries would be put on hold.
According to the New York Times, the U.S President himself seemed skeptical when it came to the agreement and reportedly said: “We’ll see if it works” to his lawyers last Friday, right before sharing the announcement over a tweet. The White House has not confirmed that quote.
At the moment, only a fence built over 560 kilometers is separating the two countries. The total border between the United States and Mexico extends 3,145 kilometers.
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