Reuters reports that Mexican officials plan to “defend free trade with the United States by using border security and immigration policy to gain leverage in talks with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump after he takes office next month.”
In short, Mexico wants to put “security, immigration and management of the U.S.-Mexican border” on the table alongside trade, in a single wide-reaching negotiation process.
These officials told Reuters the deal could include Mexico offering to “reinforce its northern border to curb drug smuggling and migrants,” and also working with the United States to curb the flow of migrants from the rest of Latin America passing through Mexico en route to the United States.
International Business Times even suggests Mexico might be willing to pitch in on the border wall its leaders have previously refused to consider funding, although no one with rank in the Mexican government seems to be explicitly putting that on the table just yet. Trump’s transition team, meanwhile, is proceeding with plans to build the wall, including consultation with federal border officials, although The New York Times speculates it might not be quite as “big” and “beautiful” as Trump described it during the campaign.
In return, Mexico wants Trump to back away from his campaign promises to rework or scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is worth some $500 billion in annual trade between Mexico and the U.S. “It can’t just be about one issue, as that would put us at a disadvantage,” said Victor Giorgana, a congressman from Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s PRI party.
These offers from Mexico seem to validate much of Trump’s campaign critique of their practices. They’re offering to do things they should be doing anyway and, in fact, have long insisted they were doing to the best of their ability. Trump has criticized Mexico for failing to take strong measures to secure both its northern and southern borders — and now Mexico is saying it can do more to secure those borders if Trump gives them what they want on trade.
This comes with the implied threat that they can make things even rougher on the border if they don’t get what they want.