17 | NOV | 2019
A questionable immigration deal avoids the worst crisis in U.S.-Mexico relations in recent years
Mexican pesos and U.S. dollar banknotes - Photo: Edgard Garrido/REUTERS

A questionable immigration deal avoids the worst crisis in U.S.-Mexico relations in recent years

07/06/2019
16:04
Gabriel Moyssen
Mexico City
-A +A
Last-ditch negotiations resulted in a deal apparently satisfactory for both sides, hailed by the Mexican government as a victory since it averted the entry into force of a 5% tariff on Monday

Leer en español

A questionable and morally indefensible immigration agreement was reached last week between the United States and Mexico to avoid the imposition of U.S. tariffs on all goods from the Latin American country, which now has less than 45 days to reduce the flow of undocumented immigrants or face the worst crisis in the bilateral relations in recent years.

Last-ditch negotiations resulted in an apparently satisfactory deal for both sides, hailed by the Mexican government as a victory, since it averted the entry into force of a 5% tariff on Monday, rising to 25% by October, as U.S. President Donald Trump threatened with a view in his impending electoral campaign.
 

Artículo

Trump threatens tariffs on Mexican imports over illegal immigration

“Mexico’s passive cooperation in allowing this mass incursion constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States,” Trump said in the statement
Trump threatens tariffs on Mexican imports over illegal immigrationTrump threatens tariffs on Mexican imports over illegal immigration

However, while Mexico is deploying 6,000 troops in its border with Guatemala, the White House has insisted in its neighbor’s compliance with additional demands, including the purchase of more agricultural products from the U.S. and “another very important part” that “will need a vote by Mexico’s legislative body."

In response, Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard declared that “there is no other thing” beyond the steps announced by both governments in Washington.

According to press reports, the deal consists of actions that Mexico had already promised to take in March during secret talks in Miami between Kirstjen Nielsen, then the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, and Olga Sánchez Cordero, the Mexican Minister of the Interior.

On December, Mexico accepted as well the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols,” to allow asylum-seekers to remain in its territory while their legal cases proceed in the United States.

Ebrard said to reporters on Tuesday that Mexico has nothing to hide,” although Washington is pressing it to accept a “safe third country” treaty that would give the U.S. the right to reject asylum seekers if they had not sought refuge in Mexico first.
 

Artículo

Mexico may consider U.S. ‘safe third country’ demand after 45 days

Deployment of National Guard forces to Mexico’s southern border was due to start on Wednesday
Mexico may consider U.S. ‘safe third country’ demand after 45 daysMexico may consider U.S. ‘safe third country’ demand after 45 days

In any case, he underscored, both nations agreed on a 45-day period to review Mexico’s progress made in the implementation of its strategy and reopen the negotiations if it is necessary.

Announced by Trump on May 30, the same day that trade representative Robert Lighthizer started the process of approving the NAFTA successor, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the tariffs on nearly USD $360 billion in Mexican imports are based on the logic of pandering to the hardline constituents who support the anti-immigration policies and the construction of a wall on the U.S. southern border.

Trade wars

In a strongly polarized environment, the tariffs are also a reaction to the renewed calls for Trump’s impeachment, as well as part of the trade wars launched for the sake of U.S. global hegemony.

Washington is already collecting 25% tariffs on Chinese goods; in parallel, it revoked India’s status as abeneficiary developing country,” which exempted USD $5.6 billion worth of its exports in 2017.

As if this were not enough, Trump said that Britain’s National Health System should be “on the table” in bilateral trade talks, taking advantage of the uncertainty that Brexit will open in European-United Kingdom relations.

It is possible, however, that this time the U.S. president exceeded his power affecting major transnational interests concerned since the blacklisting of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
 

Artículo

Huawei ban: heightened geoeconomic competition between the U.S. and China

Just as the Internet was born in a military environment, the current dispute around telecom giant Huawei barely hides the heightened competition between the United States and China for geoeconomic supremacy
Huawei ban: heightened geoeconomic competition between the U.S. and ChinaHuawei ban: heightened geoeconomic competition between the U.S. and China

The mixing of trade and immigration in the Mexican case had created a "Molotov cocktail on policy,” declared the leader of the National Association of Manufacturers Jay Timmons, warning that the move would have “devastating consequences on manufacturers in America and on American consumers.”

Influential Republican senators, including majority leader Mitch McConnell and former presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, also expressed their opposition to the measure.

Nevertheless, ignoring these claims and the advice from Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump is still under the temptation of unilateralism and short-term electoral gains.

As usual, his “instincts” tilted to the far-right following the proposals from White House counselor Stephen Miller, alt-right guru Steve Bannon, and trade adviser Peter Navarro, who considered the tariffsa brilliant move to get Mexico’s attention."

With regard to Mexico, deploying its new National Guard to stop immigration from the “Northern Triangle” of Central AmericaGuatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador— represents a considerable effort in terms of funding and human resources, not to mention a moral dilemma for a government supposed to be committed with respect to human rights.

Security analyst Alejandro Hope, writing in EL UNIVERSAL, highlighted that the number of 6,000 troops is equivalent to almost 10% of the total force of the National Guard, diverting resources urgently needed to combat drug trafficking and organized crime around the country.

Its deployment will have a cost of nearly MXN$ 3,600 million (USD $187 million), three times more than the annual budget of the National Immigration Institute, and 170 times more than the annual budget of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that his country has sufficient funds to address the problem, even though the sale of the former presidential jet; a rural development program will be expanded in the southern border in order to generate 80,000 jobs, he remarked, stressing that the bilateral deal avoided the risk of a financial crisis in Mexico. Nevertheless, by the end of July, the Mexican government could be under pressure again if Trump finds its work unsatisfactory.

López Obrador’s collaboration has lead to a record in deportations in Mexico, from 5,717 in December 2018 to 15,654 in May.

According to official data, 800,000 undocumented immigrants could be in transit to the U.S. through Mexican territory this year.

As part of its strategy, the Trump administration has deployed an undisclosed number of troops in Huehuetenango, in the Guatemalan border with Mexico.

Two weeks ago, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales signed a memorandum of cooperation with U.S. acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan.

In that document, concealed to the public, Morales agreed to share information and improve border security.

Meanwhile, dozens of agents from McAleenan’s department have also been sent to Guatemala to act as “advisers” to the police and immigration authorities.

For its part, 300 U.S. soldiers arrived in Honduras to improve response to disasters and “other crisis situations, ”working together with their Latin American and Caribbean counterparts.

The new deployment coincides with widespread unrest against the neoliberal policies of President Juan Orlando Hernández, reelected in 2017 after a campaign criticized as fraudulent.

Chronic poverty, violence, and corruption fuels immigration in Honduras, where the government of President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown by a coup supported by Washington in 2009.
 

Artículo

Widespread poverty and inequality are the engines of international immigration

From the crime-ridden Central American cities to the low-growth countries in Africa and Asia, widespread poverty and inequality are the engines of international immigration
Widespread poverty and inequality are the engines of international immigrationWidespread poverty and inequality are the engines of international immigration

In 2017, the DEA in Miami arrested Hernández brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, for drug trafficking and for using Honduran military personnel to ship cocaine to the U.S. on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel.

This year, U.S. prosecutors revealed that Hernández was himself the subject of a major drug trafficking and money laundering investigation alongside his sister Hildaformer Minister of Communications—and others.

Editing by Sofía Danis
More by Gabriel Moyssen
 

Mantente al día con el boletín de El Universal