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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 1:00 am

Trump, Mexico at odds over border deal

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Three days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced a deal with Mexico to stem the flow of migrants at the southern border, the two countries appear unable to agree on exactly what's in it.

Stung by criticism that the agreement mostly ramps up border protection efforts already underway, Trump on Monday hinted at other, secret agreements he says will soon be revealed.

“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,” Trump wrote Monday, saying it would “be revealed in the not too distant future.”

Not so, said Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, holding up a paper and pointing to the previously announced details. He told reporters the two countries agreed on two actions made public Friday and said if those measures didn't work to slow migration, they would discuss further options.

“There is no other thing beyond what I have just explained,” he said.

The episode revealed the complicated political dynamics at play as Trump and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tussle over who made out best in the agreement hashed out under Trump's threat of new tariffs on Mexico.

Trump appeared eager to declare his negotiation tactics successful, even as he tried to hype the deal with made-for-TV drama and invented measures, sparking questions and confusion. Mexico's leaders showed they weren't willing to play along.

The White House did not respond to inquiries about Trump's tweets. But the president appeared to be making a reference to talks over how Mexico handles Central American migrants who travel through the country to claim asylum in the U.S.

The Trump administration has been trying to pressure Mexico to enter into a “safe third country” agreement, which would deem Mexico a safe place for migrants and make it harder for asylum seekers who pass through the country to wait until they reach American soil to file a claim.

But the deal announced Friday made no mention of the issue.

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to share details of closed-door talks, said Mexico had expressed openness to the idea during negotiations, and said the two countries would continue to discuss the issue over the coming months.

Mexico has been insistent that it has not agreed to the provision, which would require approval from local lawmakers.