The United States and Mexico reached a last-minute deal to avert tariffs that would have gone into effect on Monday. Whether the deal accomplishes anything
Late yesterday, the United States and Mexico reached an agreement to avert the imposition of tariffs on goods from Mexico unless that country agreed to take steps to avert the tide of migrants coming from Central American hoping to reach the border with the United States to claim asylum as provided by Federal law and international treaties to which the United States is a signatory:
WASHINGTON — President Trump backed off his plan to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods and announced via Twitter on Friday night that the United States had reached an agreement with Mexico to reduce the flow of migrants to the southwestern border.
Mr. Trump tweeted the announcement only hours after returning from Europe and following several days of intense and sometimes difficult negotiations between American and Mexican officials in Washington.
The president’s threat that he would impose potentially crippling tariffs on the United States’ largest trading partner and one of its closest allies brought both countries to the brink of an economic and diplomatic crisis — only to be yanked back from the precipice nine days later. The threat had rattled companies across North America, including automakers and agricultural firms, which have built supply chains across Mexico, the United States and Canada.
Businesses had warned that the tariffs would increase costs for American consumers, who import everything from cucumbers to refrigerators from Mexico, and prompt retaliation from the Mexican government in the form of new trade barriers that would damage the United States economy.
But the trade war ended before it began, forestalling that economic reckoning and an intraparty war that Mr. Trump had created by threatening tariffs to leverage the immigration changes he demanded.
That tactic had drawn stiff protests from Republicans, including many senators, who have long opposed tariffs and worried the measure would hurt American companies and consumers.
In an unusual show of force against their own party’s president, Republican senators had threatened to try to block the tariffs if Mr. Trump moved ahead with them, and had demanded a face-to-face meeting with the president before any action. For Mexico, the president’s threat was a replay of past episodes in which Mr. Trump ranted about the country’s lack of immigration enforcement.
This year, he threatened to shut down the entire southwestern border, backing off only after aides showed him evidence that Mexican authorities were taking aggressive action to stop migrants.
This time, Mexican authorities were under similar pressure to find something that would mollify Mr. Trump.
According to a United States-Mexico Joint Declaration distributed late Friday, Mexico agreed to “take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration,” including the deployment of its national guard throughout the country to stop migrants from reaching the United States.
The declaration, distributed by the State Department, said Mexico had also agreed to accept an expansion of a Trump administration program that makes some migrants wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are heard in the United States.
“The United States looks forward to working alongside Mexico to fulfill these commitments so that we can stem the tide of illegal migration across our southern border and to make our border strong and secure,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
But the declaration by the two countries included an ominous warning, as well, stating that if Mexico’s actions “do not have the expected results,” additional measures could be taken. The declaration said the two countries would continue talking about other steps that could be announced within 90 days.
Mr. Trump’s lashing out at Mexico last week grew out of his deepening frustration with the surge of migrants that have been arriving at the border, many of them families with children from Central America who are fleeing violence and economic distress in their home countries. Mr. Trump views the increase in immigration as a direct assault on his political brand and the promises that he made while running for president. He vowed to build a wall along the border and eliminate illegal immigration — two pledges that he has largely failed to deliver as president.
“The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U. S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended,” Mr. Trump wrote just before 8:30 p.m. “Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border.”
It was not immediately clear how quickly the agreement would be carried out and whether it would work to reduce the number of migrants flowing into the United States. But the outcome prevents a trade war that experts from both countries had warned could have been an economic catastrophe on both sides of the border.
Trump administration officials demanded that Mexico support changes in asylum rules that would allow the United States to more readily reject asylum seekers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Mexico has for years resisted such a demand out of concerns about the political and economic cost. In the agreement reached Friday, Mexico did not assent to those changes.

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