Mexican federal police in riot gear receive instructions at the border crossing between Guatemala and Mexico, in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. Members of a 3,000-strong migrant caravan have massed in this Guatemalan border town across the muddy Suchiate River from Mexico, as U.S. President Donald Trump threatens retaliation if they continue toward the United States. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
I’ve been critical of Trump’s trade policies at times. My instinct is to oppose tariffs, especially if they are targeted to benefit certain industries at the expense of consumers and other workers. For example, I don’t think Pennsylvania residents are inherently more entitled to steel manufacturing jobs than any other American. Trump’s messaging can often be confusing and that’s been part of the issue. Tariffs as leverage are good. Tariffs as a means to their own end are inevitably harmful.
Despite my prior concerns, at some point I made the decision that I was done reacting rashly toward the President’s trade policy. I found much of the hysteria on the right over every new rumor of a tariff to be tedious and an overreaction. The economy is not going to crash because your Chipotle burrito might cost $0.05 more and even dealing with the bigger items, we were actually talking small fractions of the overall price being affected. One could certainly argue that even small increases are worthy of disapproval and harmful, but the constant preaching of Armageddon is all just a bit much.
I say all that to say that when President Trump announced new tariff threats toward Mexico in order to get them to help with illegal immigration, I took a wait and see approach. It was clear to me that this was a leverage play and that Mexico had far more to lose than we did. I opined at the time that I doubted they’d ever even go into effect.
I may end up being right because Mexico is currently in the process of caving to Trump’s demands.
As part of asylum overhaul, Guatemalan asylum seekers at US border would be sent to southern Mexico, and Honduran & Salvadorans would be flown to Guatemala, whose govt has been in talks with DHS officials to implement the plan. Unclear if terms will be enough to please Trump
— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) June 6, 2019
WaPo: U.S./Mexico close to a deal to avoid tariffs. Mexico has proposed sending 6,000 troops to its southern border w/ Guatemala and what sounds like a modified version of a “safe third country” agreement. Unclear how close or if it will satisfy Trump. https://t.co/RmJhkCtW4k
— Robbie Whelan (@RWhelanWSJ) June 6, 2019
This follows reports that Mexico is already beefing up its southern border.
Mexican soldiers, armed police and migration officials blocked hundreds of migrants after they crossed the border from Guatemala in a caravan into southern Mexico on Wednesday, and detained dozens of them, a witness from a migrant aid group and an official said.
The Mexican response in the border town of Metapa, which included dozens of soldiers, marked a toughening of the government’s efforts to curb the flow of mainly Central American migrants, said Salva Cruz, a coordinator with Fray Matias de Cordova.
“That many sailors and military police, yes, it’s new,” Cruz said, by WhatsApp, from Metapa, in the southern border state of Chiapas, where the vast majority of migrants cross into Mexico.
Things are moving quickly and there’s still a lot up in the air but what’s clear is that Mexico got the message.
They have no desire to take the hit when they so heavily rely on exports to the U.S. for their economic stability. In the past, the Mexicans have rebuffed signing a “safe 3rd country” agreement with us. We have such an agreement with Canada already. What it essentially does is say that migrants (they aren’t technically illegal aliens yet) must make their asylum claims in the first country they arrive in that isn’t their own. Guatemalans must do so in Mexico while Hondurans would do so in Guatemala, etc.
This helps stem the flow of “asylum shopping,” where migrants pass up perfectly safe offers of asylum in order to get to the U.S. for economic reasons. Asylum is not an ticket to try to find the best situation possible. It’s there to mitigate life threatening situations.
Now, Mexico and Guatemala are working with us to setup proper asylum procedures, where they aren’t making a dangerous 2,000 mile trip when asylum is being offered to them where they are in Mexico.
The news has some conservatives changing their tune on the whole ordeal.
Holy crap! If true, Trump was 100% right and I was 100% wrong. Good on him. https://t.co/KbFVWl9qT5
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 6, 2019
Good for Shapiro. One of the reasons I enjoy his material is that he does his best to be an honest broker. He’s willing to admit he was wrong here when a lot of other “conservative” voices wouldn’t.
If I’m Donald Trump, I take this deal or something close to it. There’s only so much Mexico can do and these latest terms seem like a max effort to me. It’s unrealistic to think they can actually stop all migrant flows to the the U.S. but if they are willing to help us enforce logical asylum policies and send thousands of troops to their southern border, that’s a big win for the President.
Even if a deal is struck in the next few days, one thing is certain. Democrats will oppose it because the goal for them has never been to stop illegal immigration or secure the border. They want these people making the inhuman journey at the behest of the cartels because they see these people as political leverage. No doubt some liberal judge will attempt to get involved here as well.
Regardless, it appears that Trump’s leverage play has worked and perhaps that’ll earn him a little more benefit of the doubt next time. Ah, who am I kidding?
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