Mexico’s Migration Dilemmas

The Border Crisis South of the Border

A member of the Mexican National Guard near the U.S.-Mexican border, July 2019 Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters

In late May, after issuing public comments and tweets criticizing the Mexican government, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose a five percent tariff on imports from Mexico if the country did not step up its efforts to prevent illegal migration to the United States. Mexico, fearing the economic impact of a tariff, immediately moved to address Trump’s concerns. On June 7, the two countries released a joint statement in which Mexico promised to “take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration.” The United States, in turn, dropped the threat of tariffs and promised to accelerate its processing of asylum claims while stepping up its development efforts in Mexico and Central America.

Critics lambasted Trump for threatening tariffs against the United States’ southern neighbor—Senator John Cornyn of Texas, normally a supporter of the administration, claimed that “We’re holding a gun to our own heads” because

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