President Trump scored a major political victory in the last few days. He got Mexico to agree to guard its southern border, quit letting buses of migrants pass through to reach the US border and to otherwise crack down on illegal immigration and human trafficking within its borders.
But, in “Trump defends deal with Mexico that critics say will do little to curb migrant crisis” by Felicia Somnez, Mike DeBonis and Nick Miroff, the Washington Post still went out of its way to diminish the accomplishment and avoid giving Trump credit.
The Post conceded “the administration appeared to have secured significant commitments from the Mexican government to stem the flow of Central American migrants at the US border” and that the agreement “represents a serious effort by Mexico to do more …”
It described the “’strong measures’” Mexico would implement to “reduce the flow of migrants headed toward the southern US border, including the unprecedented deployment of thousands of Mexican national guard troops” and conceded that government officials were optimistic “the deal, if fully implemented, represents a breakthrough in their pressure campaign to get Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to take a more robust enforcement approach.”
Mexico, it said, already had promised to use the national guard at the border, but the “deployment size is much larger than what the government had offered previously.”
But it painted the accomplishment in the most negative terms possible. The agreement, Somnez, DeBonis and Miroff wrote, amounted only to giving Trump “fresh ammunition against his critics, who have pointed out that his controversial negotiating tactics have yielded far fewer results than promised on multiple issues during his time in office” and that Mexicans are doing more “on an issue central to Trump’s reelection campaign after he threatened to impose a 5 percent across-the-board tariff on one of the United States’ top trading partners.”
It also was fresh evidence, the Post wrote, that Trump’s current approach is not working. “With arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border soaring and Trump lashing out – at Democrats, foreign governments and US laws – Homeland Security officials are under enormous pressure to halt the migration boom. The Trump administration’s efforts to deter migration have not worked, either being shot down in the courts or failing to get through Congress. And Mexican officials brushed off some of the president’s earlier demands.”
Trump’s call for escalating tariffs on Mexican goods may have forced these unprecedented concessions, but the Post noted that it “drew criticism from lawmakers of both parties, who called it a dangerous escalation that could damage the US economy.”
The Post also accused Trump of going beyond the agreement. “With an apparently successful outcome in hand, Trump still couldn’t avoid overselling the deal,” the Post wrote. “In a tweet Saturday morning, the president claimed that Mexico had agreed to ‘IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS.’
“But Mexico’s ambassador the United States, Martha Barcena, declined to confirm that account. In an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” she said only that agricultural trade is ‘going to grow without tariffs and with USMCA ratification,” the Post wrote.
“’But there was no transaction that was signed off on as part of this deal, is what I understand you’re saying,’ host Margaret Brennan asked. ‘You’re just talking about trade.’
“Barcena nodded a few times before answering. ‘I’m talking about trade, and I am absolutely certain that the trade in agricultural goods would increase dramatically in the next few months.
“Later, in a tweet, Barcena maintained that she ‘did not contradict’ Trump on the issue – underscoring Mexican officials’ hesitance to appear critical of the president so soon after avoiding a major trade war.”