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.
More than 10 thousand moms, dads, kids, LGBT+ asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico for a year+ with no $$, no food, homeless and jobless.
Hope can only go so far for people in such desperate need. We need to give more than hope, we need to give answers. https://t.co/Uc0Oo1cNeh
— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) June 7, 2019
"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."
Mexico does not have the resources or willingness to take in all asylum seekers from Central America.
— Human Rights First (@humanrights1st) June 7, 2019
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.
Here’s the thing:
There is consistently a big drop in border apprehensions from May to July-Aug, bc of the heat & attendant danger.
The current crush isn’t a seasonal pattern per se, but it is still quite plausible trend will hold, and so the tariffs will look like they “work.” https://t.co/wciWyPi4ef
— Dara Lind (@DLind) May 31, 2019
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.
The con artist w/another big con.
This BOGUS deal won't make a difference.
1000s of people will still seek asylum & our gov will still treat them terribly. He just wont talk about it as much & tell everyone he "fixed immigration".
We'll still be here fighting for human rights. https://t.co/4y8r205mai
— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) June 8, 2019