If Mexico is designated a “safe third country,” Noriega says, “people will no longer be paying coyotes their life-savings to get to the United States, because they are not going to pay that to get to Mexico.”

Mexican officials convinced Trump to delay his demand for a “safe third country” agreement and give them 45 days to show that the other measures in the agreement will work. If they don’t, foreign minister Ebrard understands that Mexico will either have to accept new asylum measures or face tariffs.

“If we’re successful, the number of people waiting for asylum in Mexico will decrease,” he said. “If we fail, and if we don’t get the results, well, we’re not going to have solid arguments to propose a different path.”

The president deserves credit for forcing a reluctant Mexican government to act. He was able to do so because the administration in Mexico City knew he was willing to pull the tariff trigger.