WASHINGTON - Mexico is due to deploy National Guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala on Wednesday as part of an agreement to cut the number of people who travel through Mexico in hopes of entering the United States.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard told reporters the deployment of what will be 6,000 troops to the border and elsewhere throughout the country would begin Wednesday, though he did not specify how quickly all of the troops would be in place.
Ebrard read a document he sent to Mexico's Senate detailing the negotiations that resulted last week in the deal that also includes expanding a program for migrants to return to Mexico while their U.S. asylum claims are being processed, and a commitment from both countries to work on development efforts in Central America.
In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump held up a piece of paper along the lawn at the White House Tuesday, saying it was his new immigration deal with Mexico that contains mystery provisions, even as Mexico says it has no idea what he is talking about.
"I'm going to let Mexico do the announcement at the right time," Trump told reporters. "I just give you my word. In here's the agreement."
Asked if Mexico had agreed to become a safe third country to house migrants seeking asylum in the United States, Trump said, "I'm not going to say one way or the other."
In his letter to Mexico's Senate, Ebrard says U.S. officials repeatedly pushed Mexico to agree to the safe third country provision, but that Mexico did not accept. Instead, the two sides agreed to wait 45 days to evaluate the effectiveness of the other measures. If after that point migration to the U.S.-Mexico border has not slowed, then further negotiations would be held with Mexico looking to incorporate a wider regional approach, Ebrard said.
But he expressed optimism Tuesday that the additional talks will not be necessary.
"Mexico is not going to fail," Ebrard said. "Mexico is open to negotiations if we fail, but we are not going to fail."
Asked by VOA why — if there was such an agreement — Mexico is denying it, Trump replied: "I don't think they'll be denying it very long. It's all done."
Trump had threatened to impose a 5% tariff on Mexican products arriving in the U.S. starting this week, but backed off when Mexico pledged to ramp up efforts to block migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala heading north to the U.S.
"Tariffs are a great negotiating tool, a great revenue producers and, most importantly, a powerful way to get companies to come to the U.S.A. and to get companies that have left us for other lands to come back home," Trump tweeted.
...Companies to come to the U.S.A and to get companies that have left us for other lands to come back home. We stupidly lost 30% of our auto business to Mexico. If the Tariffs went on at the higher level, they would all come back, and pass. But very happy with the deal I made,...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2019
"We stupidly lost 30% of our auto business to Mexico," he said. "If the Tariffs went on at the higher level, they would all come back, and pass. But very happy with the deal I made, if Mexico produces (which I think they will)."
....If Mexico produces (which I think they will). Biggest part of deal with Mexico has not yet been revealed! China is similar, except they devalue currency and subsidize companies to lessen effect of 25% Tariff. So far, little effect to consumer. Companies will relocate to U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2019