President Donald Trump insisted Saturday that people were “very excited” about the immigration deal with Mexico that resulted from his days-long standoff and threats of tariffs— but Democrats and officials cited by The New York Times have suggested there was never any need for a standoff to begin with.
“Everyone very excited about the new deal with Mexico!” the president tweeted Saturday morning, adding: “Mexico will try very hard, and if they do that, this will be a very successful agreement for both the United States and Mexico!”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Reuters the deal would “fix the immigration issue.”
After preventing tariffs of 5 percent from taking effect with the agreement late Friday, the Trump administration has heralded the deal as a hard-fought victory in the battle against immigration, presenting one of the major accomplishments of the deal as Mexico’s decision to deploy its National Guard throughout the country to stem the flow of migrants heading for the U.S. border. According to the State Department, Mexico has also agreed to expand a program under which U.S. asylum-seekers stay in that country while their cases are heard in U.S. courts.
Those two wins in Trump’s immigration fight ostensibly resulted from the president’s threats of steadily increasing tariffs on imports from Mexico, which the White House said would begin at 5 percent on Monday and climb each month until the “illegal immigration problem” was “remedied” by Mexican authorities taking action.
Officials cited by the Times on Saturday, however, said both those key components of the agreement were actually agreed upon months ago. The Mexican government had already promised then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in March to deploy its National Guard, and the arrangement to expand the program to have those seeking asylum in the U.S. stay in Mexico was agreed upon in diplomatic negotiations last December, according to the Times.
Trump’s social media victory lap over the deal on Saturday also included his claim, in all capital letters, that “MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!” But three Mexican officials cited by Bloomberg late Saturday said that was never part of the agreement and the Mexican government had never agreed to such a condition. No mention of agricultural products was made in the State Department’s press release outlining the terms of the agreement.
Democrats have accused the president of manufacturing a conflict with Mexico when there was never one to begin with. Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg dismissed the deal as a “face saving maneuver” to prevent the implementation of tariffs that were unpopular even among the president’s own party. Fellow candidate Beto O’Rourke—a former U.S. representative from a district on the southern border—said Trump was attempting to be “both the arsonist who created this problem in the first place and the firefighter who wants credit for addressing it.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted the president for using “threats and temper tantrums” to negotiate, “undermin[ing] America’s preeminent leadership role in the world by recklessly threatening to impose tariffs on our close friend and neighbor to the south.” And Sen. Chuck Schumer sarcastically called the president’s announcement of the deal “an historic night!”
“@realDonaldTrump has announced that he has cut a deal to “greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States,” he tweeted. “Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”