It would appear that Trump's tariff threat worked.
"I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico," President Trump tweeted Friday.
"The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended."
Trump had announced the tariff threat in response to a surge in illegal migration to the U.S. through Mexico this year. More than 144,000 people were apprehended after illegally crossing the southern border in May or were refused entry to the U.S. That’s the most in a single month in at least five years; the number has grown every month since January.
Mexico has agreed to "strong measures to stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border," Trump wrote.
I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2019
....stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2019
The State Department released the following "details" (which many said we beyond opaque):
Mexican Enforcement Surge
Mexico will take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration, to include the deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border. Mexico is also taking decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks. Additionally, the United States and Mexico commit to strengthen bilateral cooperation, including information sharing and coordinated actions to better protect and secure our common border.
Migrant Protection Protocols
The United States will immediately expand the implementation of the existing Migrant Protection Protocols across its entire Southern Border. This means that those crossing the U.S. Southern Border to seek asylum will be rapidly returned to Mexico where they may await the adjudication of their asylum claims.
In response, Mexico will authorize the entrance of all of those individuals for humanitarian reasons, in compliance with its international obligations, while they await the adjudication of their asylum claims. Mexico will also offer jobs, healthcare and education according to its principles.
The United States commits to work to accelerate the adjudication of asylum claims and to conclude removal proceedings as expeditiously as possible.
Both parties also agree that, in the event the measures adopted do not have the expected results, they will take further actions. Therefore, the United States and Mexico will continue their discussions on the terms of additional understandings to address irregular migrant flows and asylum issues, to be completed and announced within 90 days, if necessary.
Trump on Saturday also tweeted that Mexico also will buy “large quantities” of agricultural products, a stipulation that wasn’t included in a joint statement. As reported previously, Mexico did commit to deploying National Guard troops to help curb illegal migration and agree to care for Central Americans seeking asylum in the U.S. indefinitely as their cases wind through the system.
Have tariffs become an official weapon for Trump to achieve his geopolitical goals? It would appears so. As Bloomberg notes, US negotiators had been asking Mexico since the election of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in July 2018 to do more to stop the flow of migrants. But it was only in the past week, under the threat of tariffs, that they felt Mexico had begun negotiating seriously, according to a U.S. official.
This also begs the question whether Mexico is in fact - or at least figuratively - "paying for that wall" as Trump had vowed:
“Mexico successfully avoided the catastrophe of tariffs but will pay a heavy price,” said Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “Potentially tens of thousands of refugee claimants will have to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed. Mexico will have to house, employ, educate and provide health care for them. This is a huge commitment” for the government.
Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, who was in the Washington for the talks, said in a tweet that the tariffs wouldn’t be imposed, giving his “Thanks to everyone who has supported us by realizing the greatness of Mexico" and adding previously that the country was prepared to deploy about 6,000 guard troops. And the country already has been hosting asylum seekers while their cases were being processed.
Ebrard also said the resolution was fair. “We reached some middle point,” he said, adding that the two countries will continue discussion for other possible steps in 90 days if needed, an implicit reminder that tensions could flare again if the migrant crisis continues to worsen.
While the U.S. had originally demanded that Central American migrants apply for asylum in Mexico instead of the U.S, Mexico beat back that demand. Also, there was no formal language related to increased purchases of U.S. agricultural products, as Trump promised on Twitter, but on Saturday he used Twitter to announce, in call capital letters, Mexico’s buying plans without providing details.
MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2019
Of course, the past week's drama has left many of those most upset over Trump’s approach, including some Republicans, questioning whether the turmoil of the last week was really worth it.
The whole episode also had a familiar feel: Trump has repeatedly threatened Mexico over immigration only to back off. First, he said he’d immediately close the southern border over migration. Then he abruptly pivoted in April to a new demand: that the Mexican government stop the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. within a year or face tariffs on automobiles.
As Bloomberg further notes, this was not the first time the president has faced criticism over his stance on tariffs. What made this time different was just how alone Trump was in his position. The list of opponents to the idea was long: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, farm groups, automakers and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who took the rare step of saying publicly he disagreed with the president. Additionally, opposition to the tariff threat was present even within the Trump administration as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly opposed them, as did Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the New York Times reported.
Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican opposed to the tariffs, is pleased:
No tariffs on Mexico. Mexico came through— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) June 8, 2019
It would seem Chuck Schumer's claim that Trump's tariffs were a bluff are proved wrong.
Shortly afte rthe announcement, relieved Republicans quickly rallied around the president for securing the deal and suggested this could clear the way for Congress to approve the new trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, known as the USMCA.
“Trump has proven those who doubted him wrong by getting Mexico to step up their efforts to help us secure our southern border,” the No. 2 House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, said in a statement. “Tonight’s deal made by President Trump also puts us in a better position to make USMCA a reality.”
Most importantly, the deal alleviates a political challenge for McConnell, given that the 2020 electoral map is far less friendly for the GOP than for Democrats.