MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said on Monday that in 45 days the advances in controlling the migrant flow with the United States will be evaluated and if it has failed to stem the flow additional measures will be taken and Washington’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexican imports could be reactivated.
“Day 45 is the evaluation. And if we’re not achieving results, we would have to participate in discussions on an agreement that includes the return of asylum petitioners within a regional perspective,” Ebrard said at the National Palace at a press conference, speaking after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
He discussed in detail the talks and agreements reached last week with Washington that avoided the imposition of tariffs on all Mexican products by the US.
US President Donald Trump said on Monday that part of the agreement would be revealed in the future, to which the foreign secretary responded that nothing would be hidden or held back.
“We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years. It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico’s Legislative body!” Trump tweeted.
“We do not anticipate a problem with the vote but, if for any reason the approval is not forthcoming, Tariffs will be reinstated!,” the US president wrote.
Ebrard said that this was the “most difficult” moment in Mexican-US relations since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office Dec. 1, with talks lasting “many hours and (being) very tense” and with an ultimatum having been issued by US Vice President Mike Pence.
He acknowledged that the US position is based on real numbers, for instance the fact that last month 140,000 people were detained on the border.
He warned that, if an accord is not reached before the imposition of tariffs, the fear is that the next step would be the cancellation of the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on trade, which is in the process of ratification.
Enactment of the tariffs “would result in 1.2 million jobs lost and a drop in GDP of more than a (percentage) point,” Ebrard said.
So, he spelled out the particulars of the accord and the measures that led to it.
In the first place, he remarked that Mexico avoided accepting a designation as “third safe country,” would have obliged the Aztec nation to consider asylum requests from migrants turned away by the US.
Additionally, he confirmed that thousands of personnel with the newly constituted National Guard would be deployed on the southern border with Guatemala, although he noted that the Mexican government was already planning to do that.
“But now the deployment will be faster,” he said.
The foreign secretary denied that authorities were seeking to criminalize migrants. But, he added that it will certainly be obligatory for people to register to enter and pass through the country.
“Mexico cannot allow a flow of a million-and-a-half people without knowing (how they’re intending to pass through) its territory,” he said.
The pact also formalizes an arrangement that has been in place for months whereby Mexico harbors migrants awaiting decisions on their applications for asylum in the US.
If Washington is unsatisfied after 45 days, new measures will be considered, but on a regional basis, Ebrard said.
In discussing such measures entities such as the UN Refugee Agency will need to participate along with countries like Brazil and Panama – since they are receiving many migrants, some from outside the Americas – who are seeking to get to the US.
“We’re confident that the measures that we’ve proposed will be successful. But if they are not, we will have to participate in another discussion of that kind. I’m not hiding that,” Mexico’s chief diplomat said.
Finally, he noted that there is also a development plan for Central America under way that has the support of the US government, which he characterized as an acknowledgement by Washington that economic development is the key to ending forced migration.
Before giving the podium to Ebrard, Lopez Obrador hailed the fact that a “difficult week” had ended.
“There were 10 days complicated by the issue of tariffs ... but the results were good,” he said.
He said that the Mexican Senate will ratify the USMCA next week.
Lopez Obrador also said that “the environment could not be better for its ratification” and added that the first issue that the upper chamber will take up in its special session will be the USMCA.
The president said the ratification of the USMCA, which will replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), will be “very good news for Mexico and the world.”