Mexico scrambled Thursday to slow the flow of Central American migrants to the United States as talks continued in Washington to head off President Donald Trump’s threat of potentially catastrophic tariffs on Mexican goods.
Mexico City was deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala, blocked hundreds of migrants in a new caravan and froze the bank accounts of suspected human traffickers in hopes of appeasing Washington’s demands.
But in the US capital, negotiators holding a second day of talks were still trying to find agreement on issues including asylum application procedures and financial aid to the Central American countries that are the source of most of the migrants.
“We have been working this afternoon, we still do not have an agreement,” Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said as talks wrapped for the day. “Tomorrow we have another session in the morning and we will continue forward.”
With migrant apprehensions at the border with Mexico soaring to 144,000 in May, the highest number in 13 years, the Trump administration has threatened to hit all imports from Mexico with a five percent tariff starting Monday, a move that could savage the export-dependent Mexican economy.
Trump made the threat last week, saying that the tariffs would rise by five percentage points each month to a high of 25 percent if the southern US neighbor fails to halt the northward flow of migrants.
“They have to step up to the plate, and perhaps they will,” Trump told reporters in France where he was attending D-Day commemorations.
“We’ve told Mexico the tariffs go on, and I mean it too.”
“Looks like we’re moving toward the path of tariffs,” White House communications chief Mercedes Schlapp said on Fox News.
“What we’ve seen so far, the Mexicans what they are proposing is simply not enough.”
No deal yet
Ebrard declined to comment on whether the talks at the State Department revisited the so-called “safe third-country” option proposed by the United States, which aims at having Central American migrants fleeing chronic poverty and violence apply for asylum from Mexico rather than in the United States.
Earlier in the week Ebrard rejected the idea, but the White House declared it one of its principal demands.
The Washington Post reported that a potential deal to avoid the tariffs would allow the United States to deport asylum seekers from Honduras and El Salvador to Guatemala, which they pass through to get to Mexico and then the United States.
Ebrard’s spokesman Robert Velasco Alvarez said Thursday that there was no deal as the two sides were far apart, but that talks continue.
“The US position is focused on migrant control measures, ours is on development,” he said, referring to Mexico’s support of a broader effort to support the economies of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
At Mexico’s southern border Thursday, there were visible efforts to slow the migrants and hinder their supporters.
In the southern state of Chiapas, AFP journalists reported an increased police and military presence on roads typically used by migrants heading north. Ebrard confirmed that 6,000 National Guardsmen would be deployed to the border.
Mexico City froze the bank accounts of 26 suspected human traffickers allegedly responsible for organizing US-bound migrant caravans.
Two activists from People Without Borders (Pueblo Sin Fronteras), which has helped organize migrant caravans, were arrested on allegations of offering migrants money to enter Mexico illegally.
Mexican authorities also blocked 420 migrants in a new caravan, although the group was initially about 1,200-strong, with many suspected of running away before immigration officials stepped in.
Asylum not the problem
Meanwhile Carla Provost, the head of the US Border Patrol, downplayed the issue of asylum, saying migrants simply understand that, due to US laws, if they arrive with children, they will likely be released into the United States.
She noted that since October, 230,000 children without legal travel documents have crossed the border into the United States, most with families but also tens of thousands unaccompanied by adults.
“The issue is they don’t even have to claim asylum, they know that,” Border Patrol chief Carla Provost told CNN.
“They are telling us they are told by smugglers, they are hearing announcements in their own country, that if they come right now and bring a child, they will be released,” she said.
“That is a true statement, because we cannot hold them longer than 20 days if they have a child.”
‘Saudi Arabia pays cash’: Trump admits ‘unlike other presidents’ he’ll be renting out US troops for military action
President Donald Trump has been banging the drums of war in recent days, pointing the finger at Iran for a massive drone attack on Saudi Arabia oil fields that caused the price of oil worldwide to spike.
But on Sunday, President Trump admitted – even bragged – that U.S military forces are “locked and loaded.”. Trump also made clear he would be more than happy to order a strike on whatever country the Saudis tell him to hit.
That’s not how the U.S. Military has ever been used. They are not soldiers of fortune, they are not mercenary forces.
We, Trump said, “are waiting to hear from the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
Felicity Huffman’s $15,000 is chump change — America’s biggest bribery scandal is a whole lot worse
The American media world—both social media and “news” media—is afire with the news that actor Felicity Huffman is going to jail for spending $15,000 to bribe her daughter’s way into college.
But a much bigger bribery scandal is played out every day in America with nary a peep from the media. It’s the way billionaires and big corporations buy not just college admissions but tax cuts, deregulation, and hundreds of billions in government subsidies paid for with our taxes.
Americans have been conditioned by Trump not to believe intelligence — so why trust them now?: NBC analyst
President Donald Trump denied the 19 intelligence agencies that reported Russia hacked the 2016 presidential election because they wanted him to win. According to Trump, however, none of the intelligence reports are accurate because he won the election on his own. After years lambasting the intelligence services, attacking the FBI and other law enforcement agencies working with intelligence, Trump is between a rock and a hard place.
MSNBC host, and new mom, Katy Tur noted that after being sold a bill of goods about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Americans are likely going to be skeptical. She went on to cite NBC reporter Ken Delaney, who said that American allies "don't have the most trust in us" right now.