Andrés Manuel López Obrador colloquially known as AMLO kowtowed to Donald Trump. No amount of spin will make this stench on AMLO’s administration go away. AMLO has joined the ranks of former Mexican presidents, like Santa Ana, who cave to American demands to save their own skins.
México released the contents of the secret side deal made between Donald Trump and AMLO to avert the punitive tariffs threatened by Trump to deal with the influx of Central American immigrants reaching the U.S. border.
The “joint declaration” sets the groundwork for the United States and México to “begin discussions to establish terms for a binding bilateral agreement to further address burden-sharing and the assignment of responsibility for processing refugee status claims of migrants.”
The language lays out the “safe third-country” scheme that the United States has been trying to get México to agree to. The scheme, if adopted by México, would require México to deal with asylum seekers that enter the U.S. through México.
On the surface it simply looks like a scheme whereby México must offer an asylum process to asylum seekers, and the asylum seekers must accept Mexico’s offer before they can be processed in America.
But it goes deeper than that and it is the reason that America is pushing it so hard.
Currently, the United States must process asylum seekers under U.S. and international law. That means that a Guatemalan asylum seeker must be processed under U.S. law. If a determination is made that the asylum seeker does not meet the asylum requirements of the United States than it becomes America’s responsibility to house, feed and then transport the Guatemalan migrant directly back to Guatemala.
Therein lies the crux of the third-party agreement.
If México agrees to the safe third-party agreement it then becomes responsible for the welfare and eventual return of the Guatemalan back to Guatemala. The United States simple intercedes the Guatemalan asylum seeker and returns them back to México. This would be true for any immigrant that uses México to as the entry point to America.
It is about the money it takes to ensure the welfare of the migrant and their return to their native country.
That is what the clause of the secret agreement says in the language: “at a minimum…consistent with each party’s domestic and international legal obligations, a commitment under which each party would accept the return, and process refugee status claims, of third-party nationals who have crossed that party’s territory”.
The additional language; “the parties further intend for such an agreement to be part of a regional approach to burden-sharing” is just face-saving language to allow AMLO to demand Brazil and Central American countries to do the same. But the other countries have no reason to allow the US to dictate their politics.
The United States has traditionally and as doctrine prefers to resolve its problems as far away from its shores as possible. The War on Drugs is the prime example. Rather than resolving the migrant surge domestically through changes in the law, the United States is forcing México to act as a buffer to the problem.
Although there are questions about whether the “Supplementary Agreement between the United States and Mexico” is enforceable as signed and as written, the fact remains that Donald Trump is under the belief that all he has to do is threaten punitive tariffs in 45 days and he will get the political rhetoric on immigration and the “win” he needs for his reelection campaign.
AMLO, for his part, completely capitulated to Donald Trump and will never recover from that stain.