Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Monday said the deal with Mexico to stem the flow of Central American migrants to the United States would not have happened if President Trump had not threatened tariffs against its southern neighbor.
“The entire team from the Mexican government…they came up because the president raised the specter of five percent tariffs on their products. It’s what prompted this series of conversations that took on a level of seriousness and a timed commitment,” he said at a State Department briefing.
Pompeo also dismissed reports that nothing new was reached and that the negotiations with Mexican officials last week were a waste of time.
“The scale, the effort, the commitment here is very different from what we were able to achieve back in December,” he responded to a journalist’s question about what was actually new in the agreement. “It’s a fundamentally different commitment about doing this across the entire border at scale.”
Pompeo referenced Mexico’s deployment of 6,000 Mexican National Guard forces to its southern border with Guatemala.
“We agreed to a number of things, including the placement of 6,000 Mexican National Guard along the Mexican southern border,” he said. “It’s the biggest effort to date that the Mexicans made and it’s something that we pressed for with them throughout the time of the negotiations. We’ll work closely with them to make sure that that is a successful effort.”
He also referenced the U.S. expansion of existing Migrant Protection Protocols across its entire southern border, which would mean that those crossing the border to seek asylum will be “rapidly returned to Mexico” while they await the adjudication of their asylum claims.
“Those crossing the U.S. southern border to seek asylum will be rapidly returned to Mexico where they will await their adjudication of their asylum claims,” he said.
“We’ve seen this before, we were able to do this to the tune of a couple hundred people per day. We now have the capacity to do this full-throttle and engage this in a way that will make a fundamental difference in the calculus for those deciding to transit Mexico to try to get into the United States,” he said.
“This full-blown effort under the migration protocols is a big deal and it was something that we worked on very, very diligently with our Mexican counterparts over two days,” he added.
He also said there were “a number of commitments mad,” but that he could not detail them publicly.
He said the U.S. would know within 90 days if the new measures were working, and if they were not, the U.S. could re-impose tariffs.
“If it’s the case that we’re not making sufficient progress, then there’s risk that the tariffs will go back in place,” he said.
“We will evaluate this literally daily,” he said.
Pompeo said the agreement with Mexico reflected “diplomacy at its finest.”
“It’s a significant win for the American people. The deal continues the Trump administration’s commitment, the strongest by any administration in history to confront the tide of illegal immigration and many other problems along our southern border, including the drug trafficking issues that transit there,” he said.
“The president is doing precisely what he said he would do,” he said. “I think we made both of our countries proud with this agreement.”
Kristina Wong is Breitbart News’ Pentagon correspondent. You can follow her at @kristina_wong.