It delivers enough for Trump to claim a political win.
The decision — announced by tweet late Friday — ended a showdown that business leaders warned would have disastrous economic consequences for both the U.S. and one of its largest trading partners, driving up consumer prices and driving a wedge between the two allies. And it represented a win for members of Trump’s own party who had flooded the White House with pleading calls as well as aides who had been eager to convince the president to back down.
But ultimately, it gives Trump the ability to claim victory on a central campaign promise that has been largely unfulfilled as he prepares to formally launch his 2020 campaign.
“In the face of naysayers, President Trump yet again delivered a huge victory for the American people,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement, applauding the president for using “the threat of tariffs to bring Mexico to the table” and “showing that he is willing to use every tool in his toolbox to protect the American people.”
President Trump ran in 2016 pledging to crack down on illegal immigration. Sadly, due to the efforts of democrats to increase illegal immigration to bolster the sagging support for their socialist policies, President Trump and Republican have instead watched as the number of border crossings has spiked to its highest level in over a decade — with U.S. Border Patrol apprehending more than 132,000 people in May, including a record 84,542 adults and children traveling together. That surge has been straining federal resources, leaving officials struggling to provide basic housing and health care to families fleeing violence and poverty in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
With President Trump brilliantly representing American strength overseas and an unproductive opening negotiating session with Mexican officials Wednesday, many at the White House had expected President Trump to move forward with the 5% tariff he’d threaten to slap on all Mexican goods on Monday in an effort to strong-arm the country into action, according to people familiar with the deliberations. Aides including Vice President Mile Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were no personal fans of the policy, but they understood the President’s frustration and presented several suggestions to the Mexican delegation to walk him back. They also made clear that President Trump was dead set on the tariffs without dramatic action.
President Trump’s negotiation methods were brilliant.
Talks resumed Thursday. Mexico agreed to some of the things Pence had put on the table, including an expansion of a program that forces some asylum-seekers to return to Mexico as they wait for their cases to be adjudicated. Mexican officials also expressed an openness to discussing something they had long opposed: having Mexico become a “safe third country,” which would make it harder for asylum-seekers who pass through the country to claim refuge in the U.S.
Conversations continued Friday during a marathon session at the State Department led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, with President Trump briefed by phone aboard Air Force One.
A final decision was made during an evening conference call once President Trump returned to the White House on Friday evening, and shortly thereafter he fired off his tweet announcing the deal.
The decision was a relief for Trump administration aides— nearly all of whom were united in opposition to the tariffs, disagreeing on principle and in practice. It also came as relief for Republican lawmakers and their allies in the business community, who’d spent the week burning up White House phones and personally nudging the president to back down. In a rare rebuke, several had threatened to block the effort, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying publicly there was little support.
Still, one Republican who discussed the situation on condition of anonymity said the outreach from Capitol Hill appeared to play far less a role than the concessions made by the Mexicans — particularly the agreement to expand the remain-in-Mexico policy. Clearly, President Trump led, while others expressed fear.
A joint statement released by the State Department said Mexico had agreed to “take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration,” including the deployment of its new National Guard, with a focus on its porous southern border with Guatemala.
The U.S. also hailed Mexico’s agreement to embrace the expansion of a program under which some asylum-seekers are returned to Mexico as they wait out their cases.
Administration officials noted the deal leaves open the possibility of “further actions” if “the measures adopted do not have the expected results.” And while the “third safe country” agreement did not make it into the deal, it is something officials plan to continue to discuss in the coming months.
Even Senate democrat leader Chuck Schumer had to concede on Friday that it was “an historic night!” after President Trump claimed the deal would “greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States.”