The “agreement” between the United States and Mexico, which prevented the full force of implementation of incremental tariffs on goods exported by our southern neighbor to this country, is the latest example of how President Donald Trump loves to generate chaos and crisis, and put businesses, countries, legislators, and consumers on the ropes–just to distract them and keep his base content, later emerging as the savior who, with an iron fist, solved the very crisis he generated.
And the worst part is that the roots of the problem are never solved.
The threat of tariffs came from Trump’s discontent over the fact that Mexico, according to him, was not doing enough to stop migration–not migration of its own citizens, but of the thousands of Central Americans who are fleeing violence and hunger, crossing through Mexican territory to arrive at the United States and request asylum.
Owing to the intrinsic trade relationship between both countries, the materialization of a threat of this type would have been economically disastrous for the two countries. With his threat, Trump made all of the sectors involved tremble, but on Friday, forty-eight hours before the incremental tariffs were to have taken effect, he emerged triumphantly to announce that disaster had been avoided and it was all “thanks to him.”
It was irrelevant to Trump that, as the press reported, the so-called “new agreements” that put the brakes on this economic disaster were measures that the two countries had agreed to months earlier. This includes Mexico deploying thousands of national guard troops to its border with Guatemala to stop migrants on the route to the United States; and that asylum-seekers remain in Mexico while their cases are heard in the United States.
However, still unelucidated is Mexico’s status as a “safe third country” that would require all migrants who cross the Rio Grande on their way to the United State to request asylum in Mexico itself, a country that has already seen a rise in petitions.
Trump took to Twitter to promote the “new agreements’ and congratulate himself, but in practice, how will these new agreements change this administration’s assault on the asylum process, leaving thousands of migrants in limbo? Or how will they change the precarious situation that is already playing out in overcrowded detention centers, in response to Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy that has resulted in the separation of families, losing track of minor children, and even the deaths of six children in custody of U.S. authorities.
Last week, a disturbing DHS Inspector General report came to light that detailed the unhealthy and inhumane conditions in these detention centers, from rotten food to unusable sanitation facilities in these institutions run by the most powerful country on the planet.
The cruel immigration policy of Trump has, as its objective, the deterrence of migrants so that they think twice before making the trip North, where they will not be well-received. What Trump and his associates forget is that when a person is trying to save his life and that of his children and other relatives, the cruel obstacles that Trump wants to impose upon them are of little importance. They are running from hunger, a lack of opportunities, and brutal violence.
The policy of dissuasion has been a failure. Migrants keep arriving. The worst part about it is that some of these situations could have been avoided or alleviated, if Trump had not eliminated programs like that which permitted children to apply for asylum from their countries of origin–without having to make the trip North. Or had not eliminated aid programs to non-governmental organizations in the countries that make up the Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala), in order to help their citizens and avoid undertaking the often-fatal journey toward the United States.
And that is because solutions do not matter to Trump. What moves him is to first create chaos and then, if it appears as though his temper tantrum is unlikely to succeed, either desist from his threats or announce “new” agreements that in reality are not new, and remain the “tough guy” before his base that buys whatever he is selling.
The question is: what will Trump’s next tantrum be, if it seems that Mexico is not complying with the before-mentioned pact? To what other ruse would Trump turn, on immigration matters, when it appears more than evident that immigration will form the base of his re-election campaign?
This June 16 will mark precisely four years since Trump descended on the escalator in Trump Tower to tell the world that he was running for the presidential nomination, and he did it while labeling Mexicans and immigrants criminals, drug dealers, and rapists.
Now that there is a humanitarian crisis at the border, partly of his own creation, we can already anticipate the electoral playbook of Trump, the king of chaos.