Yesterday, Allahpundit covered the story of the “new deal” with Mexico regarding the migrant caravan at the border near Tijuana. It caught most of us by surprise, but the next 12 hours or so saw the reports begin to change. The initial reports indicated that some backchannel negotiations had resulted in an agreement that Mexico would keep the caravan members on their side of the border while they await hearings for their asylum requests. The agreement supposedly had the approval of incoming Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is more commonly known as “AMLO.” This led AP to wonder if the Mexican government wasn’t getting something out of the deal as well, such as a cheap labor force to fill thousands of jobs in northern Mexico. The Washington Post seemed to see it the same way as well.
The Trump administration has won the support of Mexico’s incoming government for a plan to remake U.S. border policy by requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims move through U.S. courts, according to Mexican officials and senior members of President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s transition team…
Earlier in the day, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement that “President Trump has developed a strong relationship with the incoming Lopez Obrador Administration, and we look forward to working with them on a wide range of issues.”
So there was one named Mexican official, specifically Olga Sánchez Cordero, the incoming interior minister and top domestic policy official for AMLO’s new administration, saying it was a done deal. Sounds pretty official, right? And if true, President Trump has pulled off a startling feat of dealmaking, achieving one of his key foreign policy goals and apparently building a solid relationship with a nation he has frequently vilified.
But by Saturday night, conflicting reports were coming from the other side of the border. NBC News reported that others in the AMLO administration were denying that a deal had been finalized.
Saturday afternoon, Jesus Ramirez Cuevas, a spokesman for recently elected Mexican President Andrés Manuel López, denied to NBC News any such agreement and insisted talks of such a deal were premature.
First reported by the Washington Post, the plan is called “Remain in Mexico” and incoming Mexican officials considered it a “short-term solution.”
So now we have another named individual, also close to AMLO, saying that talk of such a deal was “premature.” But one of CNN’s reporters on the scene this morning claimed that there may have just been some miscommunication going on. What Ramirez Cuevas was claiming, at least according to one source, was that Mexico was not approving an official “Safe Third Country” (STC) agreement, similar to the one we have with Canada. But then came yet another twist. Sanchez Cordero, the official who initially announced the short-term deal, did an about face and said there was no final agreement. (Associated Press)
“There is no agreement of any sort between the incoming Mexican government and the U.S. government,” future Interior Minister Olga Sanchez said in a statement.
Hours earlier, The Washington Post quoted her as saying that the incoming administration of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had agreed to allow migrants to stay in Mexico as a “short-term solution” while the U.S. considered their applications for asylum. Lopez Obrador will take office on Dec. 1.
The statement shared with The Associated Press said the future government’s principal concern related to the migrants is their well-being while in Mexico.
Sanchez offered no explanation for these seemingly contradictory statements, but the language is still vague. Saying “there is no agreement” doesn’t mean that an agreement isn’t in the works. Also her comments about AMLO’s priority being the migrants’ “well being while in Mexico” leaves a lot of wiggle room. At this point, I’m beginning to wonder if AMLO wasn’t just hoping this could all be done in the background and all the press the deal is receiving has scared him off.
If all of this has been dealing with an unofficial, short-term deal, that might make sense, particularly since media outlets have been bringing up the STC questions ever since news of the deal emerged. It doesn’t sound like AMLO is ready to offer any sort of STC deal for the moment and he may not ever. But for now, there are jobs to be filled in Mexico and a lot of potential laborers hanging around near the border in Tijuana. Since the new Mexican President would no doubt like to start his tenure enjoying good relations with his neighbor to the north, there’s the potential for a win-win here. They get to fill a lot of short-term job openings and they score points with Donald Trump.
AMLO’s spokespeople are also speaking Trump’s language when they express concerns over “one caravan after another” crossing their nation heading north. If this is actually going to be their new policy going forward, Donald Trump has pulled off a deal nobody saw coming. But as it goes with all things relating to Mexico, that could change in the coming months if the cartels find the agreement problematic or if AMLO gets cold feet. For now, however, it looks like we have the possibility of a positive development.