Wed, Jun 12, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Confusion reigns over US-Mexico migrant deal

CONTRADICTIONS:US President Donald Trump was eager to declare his negotiation tactics successful, while Mexico showed that it was not willing to play along

AP, WASHINGTON

Three days after US President Donald Trump announced a deal with Mexico to stem the flow of migrants at the southern border, the two nations appear unable to agree on exactly what is in it.

Stung by criticism that the agreement mostly ramps up border protection efforts already underway, Trump on Monday hinted at other, secret agreements he said would soon be revealed.

“We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the US has been asking about getting for many years,” Trump wrote on Monday, saying that it would “be revealed in the not too distant future.”

Not so, said Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard, holding up a paper and pointing to the previously announced details.

He told reporters that the two nations agreed on two actions made public on Friday last week and said if those measures did not work to slow migration, they would discuss further options.

“There is no other thing beyond what I have just explained,” he said.

The episode revealed the complicated political dynamics at play as Trump and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador tussle over who made out best in the agreement hashed out under Trump’s threat of new tariffs on Mexico.

Trump appeared eager to declare his negotiation tactics successful, even as he tried to hype the deal, sparking questions and confusion, while Mexico’s leaders showed that they were not willing to play along.

The White House did not respond to inquiries about Trump’s tweets, but the president appeared to be making a reference to talks over how Mexico handles Central American migrants who travel through the nation to claim asylum in the US.

The Trump administration has been trying to pressure Mexico to enter into a “safe third country” agreement, which would deem Mexico a safe place for migrants and make it harder for asylum seekers who pass through the nation to wait until they reach US soil to file a claim, but the deal announced on Friday made no mention of the issue.

A senior Trump administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to share details of closed-door talks, said Mexico had expressed openness to the idea during negotiations and that the two nations would continue to discuss the issue over the coming months.

Mexico has been insistent that it has not agreed to the provision, which would require approval from lawmakers.

Instead, Ebrard said at a news conference in Mexico City that if the deal announced on Friday does not begin to drive down migrant numbers in the next 45 days, officials would open up new discussions in which the US would again push for the “safe third country” measure and Mexico would propose establishing a regional refuge system in conjunction with the UN, and the governments of Guatemala, Panama and Brazil — three nations that are often starting points for migrants headed to the US.

“They wanted something else totally different ... to be signed, but that is what there is here. There is no other thing,” Ebrard said.

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