Since calling off his threat of tariffs against Mexico on Friday, President Donald Trump has claimed that he won massive concessions from the country in line with its demands that it reduce the Central American immigration. While the agreement he has announced has been widely panned as old news — an apparent attempt by Trump to save face after backing down from a reckless threat — the president has insisted that there is another, secret deal that’s even more significant.
He made this claim once again on Tuesday in front of reporters, even waving a piece of paper supposedly containing the details of the agreement.
“That’s the agreement that everybody says I don’t have,” Trump said.
Since it’s Trump, this could have been a blank stage prop — a tactic he has appeared to use before — but an intrepid Washington Post photographer got a close-up shot revealing details from the document as the sunlight shone through it.
“the Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a… https://t.co/zhT70LoiMY— Jabin Botsford (@Jabin Botsford) 1560277160.0
The document appeared to refer to Mexico agreeing to something about “burden-sharing in relation to the processing of refugees.”
It continued: “Mexico also commits to immediately … domestic laws and regulations with a view to identifying any changes that … to bring into force and implement such an agreement.”
And further: “If the United States determines, at its discretion and after consultation with Mexico, after 45 calendar days from the date of issuance of the Joint Declaration, that the measures adopted by the government of Mexico pursuant to the Joint Declaration have not sufficiently achieved results in addressing the flow of migrants to the southern border of the United States, the Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a view to ensuring the agreement will enter into force within 45 days.”
Obviously, it’s hard to be confident about the full context of the agreement unless we can see it in full. But the last paragraph described here is particularly vague and unimpressive. It basically says that if Trump isn’t happy with the agreement after a month and a half, Mexico will try really hard to live up to the agreement. It’s essentially meaningless.
Perhaps the rest of the document has more substantive information, but the other sentences visible seems to suggest vague promises as well, such as Mexico committing to reviewing its laws and regulations “with a view to identifying any changes” … whatever that means.
However, as others have pointed out, regardless of Trump’s deal or lack thereof with Mexico, immigration through the country to the southern U.S. border is likely to reduce in the coming months. This has nothing to do with policy, but with the summer heat, which makes the journey more difficult and typically leads to a seasonal reduction in Central American immigration. If this effect plays out as it usually does, Mexico can claim to have complied with Trump’s desires and the president can claim a personal victory — even if nothing has really changed.