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Migrants are seen at a migrant hostel in Piedras Negras, Mexico. A new deal reached between the Trump administration and Mexico will expand the "remain in Mexico" policy, under which migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. are sent to Mexico before applying. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Trump's Tariff Deal Will Be 'Disaster' for Thousands of Immigrants Deported to Mexico, Rights Groups Say

"The con artist with another big con. This bogus deal won't make a difference."

Julia Conley

Immigrant rights groups decried the deal reached Friday night by President Donald Trump and Mexican officials, in which Trump called off his plan to impose tariffs on all imports from Mexico in exchange for an expansion of his policy deporting asylum-seekers to the country.

Trump announced late Friday that the five percent tariffs scheduled to be implemented on Monday had been "indefinitely suspended" after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's administration agreed to help with Trump's crackdown on immigration, apprehending more immigrants traveling through the country to the southern U.S. border and sharing more intelligence with the United States.

The Mexican government deployed 6,000 National Guard troops to its southeastern border ahead of the announcement and had two organizers arrested for arranging for groups of migrants to travel together.

"The Mexican government has detained them to present them as trophies before the United States government," the immigrant rights organization Pueblos Sin Fronteras said in a statement after the arrests. "Despite assurances from the Mexican government that tells us that Mexico makes its own migration policy, this series of events makes it clear that's not the case."

Along with apprehending more immigrants entering Mexico from Central America, Lopez Obrador's administration will allow an expansion of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, also known as his "remain in Mexico" policy, under which migrants from countries including Honduras and Guatemala are sent to Mexico when they attempt to apply for asylum in the United States.

Under the policy, more than 10,000 people have already been sent to Mexico while they await court decisions on their asylum cases. Immigrant rights groups have slammed the policy for not allowing asylum seekers fair representation in court and for forcing them to wait for an undetermined period of time for their ruling, with no resources in an unfamiliar country.

"Mexico does not have the resources or willingness to take in all asylum seekers from Central America," Human Rights First tweeted after Trump announced the deal. "Vulnerable migrants should not be forced to remain in danger in Mexico due to Trump’s draconian policies."

The ACLU and other rights groups filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in February, calling the government's protocol for determining whether it is safe for asylum seekers to be forced to stay in Mexico "egregiously inadequate."

"The Trump administration announced that it intends to further expand its forced return to Mexico policy, which has been illegal since Day One and has already proven to be a disaster," Omar Jadwat, director of the group's Immigrants' Rights Project, said in a statement Friday night. "We continue to press our legal challenge to the policy."

Trump had planned to impose a five percent tariff on all Mexican goods, which could have increased to 25 percent by October if the administration determined Mexico was not doing enough to stem immigration.

Vox immigration reporter Dara Lind wrote recently that since historically, fewer immigrants attempt border crossings in summer months, Trump could be expected to take credit for this trend if the tariffs were imposed, suggesting his trade policy forced Mexico to crack down on migration.

Trump noted on Friday that the tariffs could still be imposed later if he determines Mexico's actions "do not have the expected results."

The immigrant rights group RAICES tweeted that Trump will likely portray his decision to cancel the tariffs as solving what he sees as a "crisis" of immigration.

"This bogus deal won't make a difference," the group wrote. "Thousands of people will still seek asylum and our government will still treat them terribly. He just won't talk about it as much and [will] tell everyone he 'fixed immigration.'"

"We'll still be here fighting for human rights," RAICES added.


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