Progress began as Mexico was successfully pressured to do their part in combating illegal immigration into the U.S. Earlier in the year, Trump threatened to place tariffs on all Mexican exports, leading to an agreement in June. The deal included Mexico assigning 20,000 members of their newly formed National Guard to their southern and northern borders. Mexico also implemented dozens of checkpoints at roads key to assisting the flow of illegal migrants.
As the Wall Street Journal reported:
Border Patrol took 64,000 people into custody at the U.S.-Mexico border in August.
The August figures are about 30% lower than July’s numbers, continuing a sharp decline in illegal crossings since reaching a 13-year high of 132,900 apprehensions in May. In eight of the last ten years, border arrests rose from July to August, suggesting August’s drop in border arrests doesn’t track with seasonal trends. Deportations in Mexico jumped to 84,000 in the January-July period, a 38% increase compared with the same period of last year, while apprehensions rose 76%, data from Mexico’s immigration agency showed. Deportations in June hit a 13-year high. The vast majority of those deported are migrants from the so-called Northern Triangle countries—Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Meanwhile in Guatemala, US federal authorities including Ice and intelligence agents are being deployed to dismantle smuggling networks, as part of the controversial “safe third country” agreement with the US.
Mexico’s left-wing president Andrés Manuel López Obrador campaigned against Trumpian rhetoric, and as the Journal noted, “slowed deportations of Central American migrants out of Mexico in the first few months of his tenure.” He specifically pledged not to do the U.S.’s “dirty work” on fighting illegal immigration.
Clearly, he’s been forced to break his campaign promise in thwarting Trump’s immigration agenda.
Even VICE News was forced to admit that there’s no spinning it – Mexico has caved to Trump on immigration. “Signs of the crackdown are everywhere,” they say, “from National Guard troops lining the once-unguarded border with Guatemala to shelters and flophouses overflowing with migrants stranded after the government refused them transit visas.”
Of course, this is a temporary measure, and its effects will be undone as soon as Mexico stops cooperating. Perhaps that could take a while – until Trump is no longer in office – but it’s still not going to be something we can count on in perpetuity.
We have a band-aid that’s working for now – but absent a border wall, this problem will never be gone.
At least for now Mexico is paying for it.