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2019-06-11 15:06:171 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Marcelo Ebrard and Mike Pompeo (Image source: Public domain)
Decades before Donald Trump became president, he wrote a book called "Art of the Deal," talking about his accomplishments in business, specifically through making deals. He was elected president partially on the precipice of that; however, the longer he is in office, the more his deal-making prowess comes into doubt
His deal with Mexico has now gone from him making threats, to crowing about a deal, to Democrats accusing him of actually procuring that deal months ago, to the Mexican foreign minister, Marcel Ebrard, stating there is no deal and that only an agreement was made to discuss it later.
This goes back to former President Barack Obama extending the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Trump has said all along it was a terrible deal and has been trying to redo NAFTA with no success.
He desperately needs a win at the border, as he was elected on that stipulation, that he would set things right at the border. Yet nothing he has tried so far has succeeded, and his 2020 reelection bid is going into full swing.
It appears Trump tried to kill two birds with one stone: he threatened Mexico with tariffs if they didn't solve things at the United States/Mexico border. At the end of the week, he declared there was a deal in place and that he was pulling the tariffs off the table. Yet, he would not explain what the deal was and would only say details would be provided at a later time.
Democrats came down hard on him for this deal. They claim that the few details that were leaked, that Mexico would utilize their national guard to try and curb the flow of migrants and that they would agree to keep asylum-seekers on their side of the border while waiting for their U.S. cases to be heard in court, had been agreed to months ago by former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. In addition, they weren't too crazy about his tactics of using threats to get what he wants.
Ebrard said on Monday, however, that there is no secret immigration deal between the U.S. and Mexico. Instead, he insists there is an understanding that both sides would evaluate the situation again a few months down the line. If the number of migrants across the border is not reduced significantly, they will renew discussions about making more aggressive changes.
"Let's have a deadline to see if what we have works, and if not, then we will sit down and look at the measures you propose and those that we propose," he said, describing the understanding they reached.
U..S. officials tried to ease Trump through this blow to his deal, allowing him to save face, stating that what the president seemed to be referring to was the agreement that was made to revisit the border situation, insisting it gives the U.S. leverage over Mexico to hold up their end.
The officials explained it in a way to show that Mexico had done everything but sign on the dotted line with regard to the United States's desired asylum changes, specifically regarding having a "safe third country," which states Central American migrants would first have to apply for asylum in Mexico before they reached the U.S.
Ebrard maintains they will only discuss changing the asylum rules if the flow of migrants is not reduced substantially. "They will propose safe third country," he said. "We said it will have to be with the U.N.H.C.R. — it will have to be regional," making a reference to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Any agreement in that regard with asylum changes will have to be negotiated and then approved by the Mexican Senate. The agreement that was announced on Friday delayed that discussion to allow Mexico to show Trump how they believe they can help curb the migrant situation.
Trump had also announced there was an agreement that was reached where Mexico had agreed to purchase agricultural goods from the U.S., but Ebrard claims this isn't true either.
With criticism stating that the few things that were agreed to and announced, such as Mexico utilizing the National Guard to control the migrant situation, were agreed to earlier by Nielsen, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo maintains the agreement is more substantial than the prior agreement.
"The scale, the effort, the commitment here is very different from what we were able to achieve back in December," said Pompeo. "It's a fundamentally different commitment about doing this across the entire border at scale."
He also claimed there were other agreements made but refused to discuss them.
In this case Trump seems to be all bark and no bite. He threatened tariffs and said repeatedly that he meant it and would not back down. But essentially, that appears to be what he did. He walked away from the negotiation without anything definitive, without anything that he didn't already have. He has no tariffs, and the border situation has not changed.
Mostly, he has no deal with Mexico, the one thing he really needed to appease his base.
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