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Mexico Needs to Change Course

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is faced with an economic slowdown, an unsustainable migration policy, the continued threat of US tariffs, and a major trade agreement in limbo. The best – or the least worst – solution is a policy U-turn by AMLO’s government.

MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s political and economic malaise could go from bad to worse in the coming months. The Mexican economy has been stagnating since late last year. The migration crisis unleashed by US President Donald Trump is humiliating, and is straining the country’s resources. And the US Congress seems increasingly unlikely to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) – which is intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – before the 2020 US presidential election.

Faced with these mounting problems, the Mexican government, led by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), must now change course dramatically. In particular, it must abandon its left-wing rhetoric and domestic grandstanding, and end its undignified kowtowing to Trump on migration and border patrols.

Mexico is doing Trump’s dirty work on migration in two ways. First, some 58,000 asylum seekers, mainly from Central America, are currently stranded on the southern side of the US-Mexican border. Many are there as a result of the November 2018 “Remain in Mexico” agreement between the Trump administration and AMLO’s new government, under which Central American asylum seekers who reach the US are returned to Mexico to await their hearing before a US official. These people are placed in shelters under abominable conditions, or sleep in the streets of some of the world’s most violent cities. They have waited several months or even a year for a hearing, but now their wait will most likely be indefinite.

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