Mexico publishes Trump’s ‘secret deal’ on migration

June 15, 2019

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico published the document Friday that Donald Trump earlier flaunted as a secret deal to curb migration, but denied it had capitulated to the US president’s demands for a so-called “safe third country” agreement.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard underwent a grilling in Mexico’s Congress, where some lawmakers insisted otherwise and demanded more details on what exactly he agreed to in the last-minute deal brokered a week ago to dodge Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexican goods.

Angry over a surge of Central Americans seeking US asylum, Trump is pushing Mexico to agree to a deal in which migrants entering Mexican territory would have to apply for refugee status there, not in the United States.

The language in the “supplementary agreement” released by Mexico appears to resemble that. However Mexico’s foreign ministry insisted the document  -- signed by a deputy legal advisor to the ministry and his State Department counterpart  -- was “not a binding bilateral agreement.”

Rather, it says the two sides agree to immediately open talks to arrive at just that -- a “binding bilateral agreement”  -- in which Mexico “would accept the return, and process refugee status claims, of third-party nationals” who cross its territory to reach the United States. If in 45 days Washington decides that Mexico City’s efforts to curb migration are not enough, then the Mexican government “will take all necessary steps under domestic law” to bring that agreement into force in another 45 days, the text concludes. Trump had waved the one-page document in front of reporters Tuesday to fend off critics who said he had in fact extracted little in the way of new commitments from Mexico with his tariff threats.