President Donald Trump is pushing for a comprehensive immigration reform deal as Mexican officials offer a partial deal that would fall short of the “safe third country” goals sought by the administration.
Midday Friday, on his flight back to the United States, Trump reminded the Mexican government of the trade benefits they could gain if they avoid triggering the five percent tariffs he has promised for Monday.
If we are able to make the deal with Mexico, & there is a good chance that we will, they will begin purchasing Farm & Agricultural products at very high levels, starting immediately. If we are unable to make the deal, Mexico will begin paying Tariffs at the 5% level on Monday!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2019
The “safe third country” deal sought by the administration would extend a routine international practice to the region. It would require migrants in the region to seek safety and asylum in the first safe country they reach, and allow the United States border agencies to reject migrants who cross through Mexico to reach the U.S. border.
The administration’s plan would minimize the ability of Congress, pro-migration legal groups, and cheap labor lobbies to import more migrants for companies and donors because the plan builds on existing laws which allow border agents to return migrants to countries who have signed a diplomatic deal.
A Thursday report in the Washington Post, however, showed that Mexican officials are offering a mix of temporary security measures — extra border police in the south, for example — and a partial diplomatic deal that would require U.S border agencies to accept Guatemalans who claim a fear of murder and torture, even after crossing through Mexico:
The Washington Post sketched the Mexican offer on Thursday:
Any migrants who made it to the U.S. border generally would be deported to the appropriate third country. And any migrants who express a fear of death or torture in their home country would be subjected to a tougher screening standard by U.S. asylum officers more likely to result in rejection.
But that deal could still allow the cartels to overwhelm the border agencies with migrants carrying unprovable claims of death threats — especially if pro-migration groups persuade friendly U.S. judges that Mexico is not living up to its side of the deal.
The public side of the Mexican pushback is coming from Mexican TV personalities in the United States. A May 2 op-ed in the Washington Post said:
Last spring [in 2018], the Trump administration began pushing an idea onto Mexican officials: Mexico should sign a “safe third country” agreement with the United States that would allow the growing wave of Central American immigrants to apply for asylum in the country, effectively authorizing U.S. border agents to summarily turn back potential refugees.
Then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had begun insisting on the possibility of such an understanding with Mexico’s representatives as early as April. She urged immigrants making their way north to “seek protection” in Mexico before considering doing so in the United States. Still, despite Nielsen’s perseverance, Mexican officials didn’t budge. Then-Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray dismissed the possibility. “A safe third country status would turn Mexico into a final destination for immigrants and would invalidate any further bid for asylum in the United States. That’s why we’ve rejected it,” Videgaray said.
The op-ed was written by León Krauze, a Mexican-born news anchor, KMEX, which is Univision’s station in Los Angeles. Krauze continued:
The [current] Mexican government doesn’t seem too keen on the [safe third cuontry] idea, either. In a recent interview, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Martha Bárcena, told me that an agreement like the one described in the DHS report is just “not in the cards right now.” Bárcena acknowledged that U.S. authorities have brought up the possibility of such a deal “on multiple occasions.” Mexico, she told me, remains opposed to the idea.
Jorge Ramos, another news anchor for Univision TV, is also campaigning against the deal, which could sharply reduce the inflow of Spanish-language TV watchers into the United States:
Immigration is not a problem that you can fix like an old car. We can only aspire to manage it. We are talking about human beings who tend to go to safer and richer countries. It is totally unfair to ask Mexico to do what the United States couldn’t do.
— JORGE RAMOS (@jorgeramosnews) June 5, 2019
Ramos also scolded Mexico’s President, Lopez Obrador, for considering a deal with the United States:
Defending Mexico against Trump is more than an economic issue, it is a matter of national dignity.
“EPN” refers to the prior president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, who left office in 2018.
— JORGE RAMOS (@jorgeramosnews) June 6, 2019
— JORGE RAMOS (@jorgeramosnews) June 7, 2019
Part of the problem is that Mexico’s elite wishes to present itself as welcoming and generous to other Latino populations, said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “Mexico is in a position where it has to choose between trade with the U.S. or maintaining the image of generous humanitarianism in its asylum policy,” he said., adding:
Mexico has expanded the grounds for asylum [in Mexico] far beyond anything the U.N. treaty requires, and that means literally hundreds of millions of people — maybe billions — could qualify for asylum in Mexico. If [migrants] can’t get into the U.S., Mexico might become an attractive option … It is 11th largest economy in the world.
Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university.
But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately one million H-1B workers — and approximately 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.
The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.
This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.
This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations. It also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions. The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the heartland to the coastal cities, explodes rents and housing costs, shrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.