Mexico and the United States reach a deal
June 10, 2019
With the Trump threat of tariffs on products from Mexico looming, the governments of the United States and Mexico issued a joint memorandum on migration through Mexico on Friday. The details of the agreement, as spelled out in a State Department communique, are vague. But the agreement revolves around four key points:
Firstly, Mexico agreed to step up enforcement through expanded use of the National Guard to police the border with Guatemala and interdict migrants within Mexico. Other news reports put the number of guardsmen being mobilized at 6,000.
Secondly, the United States will expand its current “Migrant Protection Protocols” across the entire border with Mexico – meaning that people crossing the border to seek asylum in the United States will be returned to Mexico to await adjudication of their asylum claim. The State Department statement includes this Orwellian passage:
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 has its own international obligations to accept people seeking asylum and is offshoring this responsibility to Mexico, which is committing to offer work permits and provide health care and education to asylum seekers.
Thirdly, the agreement will be monitored and further steps taken if needed after a 90-day review.
Finally, announced, but not “negotiated,” Mexico and the United States will continue to work with countries in Central America on issues of economic development and security (really?). Mexico has already launched its own Comprehensive Development Plan to coordinate with countries of Central America – meanwhile, Trump is trying to cut development assistance.
Of course, the devil is in the details. And those are not yet available. Trump indicated, via Twitter, that the deal would have to go before Mexico’s legislature suggesting it is a much more specific agreement than the announced outline would indicate. We’ll have to wait and see.
And, of course, being Trump this point came with a further threat: If Mexico’s congress does not pass the agreement, tariffs will be reinstated (not that they ever went into effect).
TAKE ACTION: As part of Mexico’s renewed crackdown on immigration, two human rights defenders, Cristóbal Sánchez and Irineo Mujica , were arrested last week in Mexico. Take action to get them released. Details here.
24 immigrants have died in detention since Trump took office
NBC and other news outlets ran a story over the last few days about the number of immigrants who have died in ICE custody since Trump took office. The number is 24. The story has been used to discuss the horrendous conditions that immigrants are being held in – as indicated by yet another DHS Office of Inspector General report that documents a lack of access to health care, spoiled food, and a host of other violations.
None of the companies contracted to provide these “services” have lost a contract yet.
While NBC’s story notes that the highest number of deaths in detention was in 2004 (32 in one year), none have mentioned that in Obama’s last year 12 people died in detention – more than in 2017 and the same number as 2018. Which is to say, detention conditions and deaths in the context of those conditions have been a problem for a very, very long time. Trump’s expanded use of detention (52,000 people are being held on average each day) is making a bad situation much worse.
Not included in this number are the five children who have died over the last year. They were not held in ICE facilities – child detention typically takes place through the Office of Refugee Resettlement.