Mexico’s Migration Mistake
US President Donald Trump successfully used the threat of tariffs to railroad his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, into conceding to virtually all of his demands on migration. But as painful as those tariffs might have been, they would have cost Mexico less than its current treatment of migrants.
MEXICO CITY – Last month, US President Donald Trump’s administration railroaded Mexico into agreeing to take “unprecedented steps” to curb irregular migration and human trafficking across its borders. The deal – the implementation of which will be evaluated this month – is shameful for Mexico and the United States alike.
The discord over migration did not originate with Trump. In the summer of 2014, then-US President Barack Obama responded to a surge in unaccompanied minors reaching the US border by requesting that then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto send forces to Mexico’s border with Guatemala to stem the flow. Peña complied, though Mexico never received anything in exchange, and the number of migrants reaching the border declined.
But the tensions escalated significantly under the Trump administration, not least because, by late 2017, the number of migrants reaching the US border was again skyrocketing. In early 2018, the US was reportedly apprehending some 50,000 migrants – especially from Central America, but also from Cuba and Africa – per month, compared to about 20,000 per month in 2015-2016.
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