Re­port: Bor­der deal was made

Trump says im­mi­gra­tion ac­cord in­cludes pro­vi­sions that will be re­vealed soon

The Mercury News - - Front Page - By Nick Miroff, Kevin Sieff and John Wag­ner

Mex­i­can ne­go­tia­tors con­vinced Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to back down from his tar­iff threat by agree­ing to an un­prece­dented crack­down on Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants and by ac­cept­ing more ex­pan­sive mea­sures in Mex­ico if the ini­tial ef­forts don’t de­liver quick re­sults, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials from both gov­ern­ments and doc­u­ments re­viewed by The Washington Post.

The en­force­ment mea­sures Mex­ico has promised in­clude a mil­i­ta­rized na­tional guard de­ploy­ment at the Guatemalan bor­der, thou­sands of ad­di­tional mi­grant ar­rests per week, and the ac­cep­tance of bus­loads of asy­lum-seek­ers turned away from the U.S. bor­der daily, all geared to­ward cut­ting the mi­grant flow dra­mat­i­cally in com­ing weeks. The mea­sures, de­scribed by of­fi­cials from both sides and in­cluded in Mex­i­can ne­go­ti­at­ing doc­u­ments re­viewed by the Post, ap­pear to be more sub­stan­tial than what the Mex­i­can

govern­ment has at­tempted thus far dur­ing the pre­cip­i­tous rise in mi­gra­tion to the U.S. bor­der.

Since herald­ing the pact in a Friday night tweet, Trump has fumed at crit­i­cism that he ca­pit­u­lated to Mex­ico and that his ac­cord amounts to a series of pre­vi­ously agreed-to mea­sures.

Trump of­fi­cials on Mon­day de­scribed the ac­cord as a break­through, and the pres­i­dent con­sid­ered Mex­ico’s plan ag­gres­sive enough to sus­pend his tar­iff threat even though he liked the idea of im­pos­ing the du­ties over howls from mem­bers of his own party.

U.S. of­fi­cials say they were par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with Mex­ico’s pledge to de­ploy up to 6,000 na­tional guard troops to its bor­der re­gion with Gu­atemala. Mex­ico de­scribed its plan to U.S. of­fi­cials as “the first time in re­cent his­tory that Mex­ico has de­cided to take op­er­a­tional con­trol of its south­ern bor­der as a pri­or­ity,” ac­cord­ing to Mex­i­can govern­ment doc­u­ments.

Such lan­guage amounted to the kind of rhetor­i­cal shift Trump of­fi­cials were look­ing for from the left­ist govern­ment of An­drés Manuel López Obrador, who last year dis­missed im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment in Mex­ico as “dirty work” at the be­hest of the United States.

Bristling at crit­i­cism of the pact, Trump also said Mon­day that his deal with Mex­ico has “fully signed and doc­u­mented” pro­vi­sions that have not yet been pub­licly dis­closed, hint­ing at a re­gional plan un­der dis­cus­sion dur­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions that would give the United States the abil­ity to de­port most Cen­tral Amer­i­can asy­lum-seek­ers.

“It will be re­vealed in the not too dis­tant fu­ture,” Trump wrote in early morn­ing tweets, de­scrib­ing the mea­sures as “an im­por­tant part” of the deal with Mex­ico and “one that the U.S. has been ask­ing about get­ting for many years.”

On Mon­day af­ter­noon at the White House, Trump said the agree­ment has been locked in and is some­thing that will be an­nounced very soon: “It’s all done. It was all done be­cause of the tar­iffs and the re­la­tion­ship with Mex­ico . ... Mex­ico is do­ing more for the United States right now than Congress. Tremen­dous prob­lem at the bor­der.”

Pressed by re­porters on Tues­day for proof of his deal with Mex­ico, Trump pulled a piece of pa­per from his coat pocket and said it was the deal. He de­clined to show re­porters what was on the pa­per.

Most aslyum-seek­ers who reach U.S. soil now are pro­cessed and re­leased into the U.S. in­te­rior to await court pro­ceed­ings, some­thing that can take months or years. The pro­posal would make asy­lum-seek­ers in­stead ap­ply for pro­tec­tion in the first for­eign coun­try they reach af­ter de­part­ing their home­land, po­ten­tially al­low­ing the United States to send Gu­atemalans back to Mex­ico and Hon­durans and Sal­vado­rans back to Gu­atemala. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials were in Gu­atemala last month dis­cussing such a plan.

Mex­ico has re­peat­edly said that it will not agree to a “safe third” ac­cord that would re­quire it to take in U.S.-bound asy­lum-seek­ers tran­sit­ing its ter­ri­tory. But Mex­i­can of­fi­cials have been will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate some­thing that would func­tion in a sim­i­lar way, if re­spon­si­bil­ity for asy­lum-seek­ers were to be shared among other na­tions in the re­gion.

They say such asy­lum changes would re­quire ap­proval from Mex­i­can law­mak­ers, and Trump said in a tweet Mon­day he would im­pose tar­iffs if the re­gional asy­lum over­haul doesn’t pass: “If for any rea­son ap­proval is not forth­com­ing, Tar­iffs will be re­in­stated!” he warned.

The ac­cord of­fers clear po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tages for Trump. By con­di­tion­ing the tar­iff threat on sharp re­duc­tions in mi­gra­tion flow, the deal has essen­tially tasked Mex­ico with de­liv­er­ing the re­sults that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been un­able to achieve on its own. And if Mex­ico’s ef­forts don’t pan out, Trump can blame the López Obrador govern­ment and re­vive his tar­iff threat to elicit a stronger re­sponse.

If unau­tho­rized mi­gra­tion lev­els fall as a re­sult of more Mex­i­can en­force­ment, Trump will be able to take credit, em­bold­en­ing his bul­ly­ing ap­proach to diplo­macy.

Trump’s frus­tra­tion with Demo­cratic op­po­si­tion to his “bor­der wall” has been com­pounded by the record in­flux of Cen­tral Amer­i­can fam­i­lies and chil­dren dur­ing the past year, but the pres­i­dent’s tar­iff ul­ti­ma­tum alarmed Mex­i­can of­fi­cials — more than pre­vi­ous threats to close the bor­der — be­cause it con­di­tioned vi­tal com­merce and trade on im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment.

U.S. au­thor­i­ties de­tained more than 144,000 mi­grants along the Mex­ico bor­der last month, the high­est level in 13 years, and nearly dou­ble the num­ber taken into cus­tody in Fe­bru­ary. The United States is on pace to make more than a mil­lion ar­rests at the bor­der this year.

On June 5, Mex­i­can For­eign Min­is­ter Marcelo Ebrard and Am­bas­sador Martha Barcena met with Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, White House at­tor­ney Pat Cipol­lone and act­ing Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Kevin McAleenan to hash out a deal.

The U.S. ne­go­tia­tors told the Mex­i­can del­e­ga­tion that the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue was the most im­por­tant thing to Trump’s pres­i­dency, and they needed to take mean­ing­ful, con­crete ac­tions with mea­sur­able goals.

Mex­i­can of­fi­cials in March had pledged to in­crease the size of their se­cu­rity de­ploy­ment along the Gu­atemala bor­der, but the pro­posal for 6,000 troops was far larger than the con­tin­gent to which they had pre­vi­ously com­mit­ted. They also pre­sented a de­tailed plan for more check­points, de­ten­tion cen­ters and ramped-up de­por­ta­tions — all aimed at pre­vent­ing mi­grants from mov­ing north and at de­ter­ring oth­ers from try­ing.

The Mex­i­can of­fi­cials said their en­force­ment mea­sures would re­duce U.S. bor­der ar­rest to­tals closer to 50,000 per month by Oc­to­ber, with the goal of re­duc­ing mi­gra­tion to where it was in mid-2017, when de­ten­tions dropped to their low­est level since the early 1970s.

The U.S. side said Trump wanted the numbers to fall faster and fur­ther. Mex­i­can of­fi­cials agreed to more, while also urg­ing the United States to add more im­mi­gra­tion judges and process asy­lum claims faster. Mex­i­can of­fi­cials noted that the le­gal and ad­min­is­tra­tive dysfunctio­n of the U.S. im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem was not Mex­ico’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

DOUG MILLS — THE NEW YORK TIMES

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump shows re­porters Tues­day a piece of pa­per that he said con­tained part of a se­cret agree­ment with Mex­ico on im­mi­gra­tion.

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