U.S., Mexico Agreed on Border Action Long Before Trump Threatened Tariffs

President Donald Trump announced Friday that he would not impose tariffs on Mexico that he had previously threatened if the country did not take action to halt illegal immigration. But, officials from both countries say that the pledge on Mexico’s part to take measures came several months before during discussions with the U.S.

According to the joint declaration Friday, Mexico agreed to deploy its National Guard throughout the country, “giving priority to its southern border,” although the government of Mexico has already agreed to do that several months prior to the declaration.

The officials said that secret talks between then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Olga Sanchez, the Mexican secretary of the interior, were held in Miami in March, during which an agreement on the issue was struck.

The New York Times reports that the centerpiece of Trump’s deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed, an arrangement already agreed on and announced in December 2018.

In the latest round of talks taking place over the past week, Mexico did not accept a “safe third country” treaty that would have allowed for asylum seekers to be rejected by the U.S. if they had not sought refuge in Mexico first.

President Trump praised the agreement regardless, voicing excitement over it on Twitter.

The Times writes that Trump’s move to accept such a deal that still entails some limits could have been just the result of his attempt to avoid the political and economic consequences of imposing tariffs on Mexico, which had faced strong opposition from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Officials said that talks between the United States and Mexico began about a week ago and the Mexican government promised to deploy up to 6,000 national guard troops, more than they had previously pledged to deploy. But officials remain skeptical of the prospects of Mexico keeping that promise and the likelihood that the move would result in a drop in migrant numbers.

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