President Donald Trump’s deal to avert his threatened tariffs on Mexico includes solutions to swiftly stem the surge of Central American migrants flowing over America’s southern border.

It delivers enough for Trump to claim a political win.

The decision — announced by tweet late Friday — ended a showdown that business leaders warned would have disastrous economic consequences for both the U.S. and one of its largest trading partners, driving up consumer prices and driving a wedge between the two allies.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard gets ready to talk to reporters as he leaves the Department of State in Washington, on Friday June 7, 2019. President Donald Trump says he has suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexico, tweeting that the country
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard gets ready to talk to reporters as he leaves the Department of State in Washington, on Friday June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Luis Alonso Lugo)

It gives Trump the ability to claim victory on a central campaign promise as he prepares to formally launch his 2020 campaign.

“In the face of naysayers, President Trump yet again delivered a huge victory for the American people,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement, applauding the president for using “the threat of tariffs to bring Mexico to the table” and “showing that he is willing to use every tool in his toolbox to protect the American people.”

The number of border crossings has spiked to its highest level in over a decade — with U.S. Border Patrol apprehending more than 132,000 people in May, including a record 84,542 adults and children traveling together. That surge has been straining federal resources, leaving officials struggling to provide basic housing and health care to families fleeing violence and poverty in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Migrants walk past a large U.S. flag blanketing a portion of the border in protest to demand respect for migrants, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Friday, June 7, 2019. President Donald Trump announced late Friday that he had suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexico, tweeting that the country
Migrants walk past a large U.S. flag blanketing a portion of the border in protest to demand respect for migrants, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Christian Torres)

With Trump overseas and an unproductive opening negotiating session with Mexican officials Wednesday, many at the White House had expected Trump to move forward with the 5% tariff he’d threaten to slap on all Mexican goods on Monday in an effort to strong-arm the country into action, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

U.S. officials were nonetheless surprised when talks resumed Thursday and Mexico agreed to some of the things Pence had put on the table, including an expansion of a program that forces some asylum-seekers to return to Mexico as they wait for their cases to be adjudicated. Mexican officials also expressed an openness to discussing something they had long opposed: having Mexico become a “safe third country,” which would make it harder for asylum-seekers who pass through the country to claim refuge in the U.S.

Conversations continued Friday during a marathon session at the State Department led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, with Trump briefed by phone aboard Air Force One.

A final decision was made during an evening conference call once Trump return to the White House on Friday evening, and shortly thereafter he fired off his tweet announcing the deal.

A joint statement released by the State Department said Mexico had agreed to “take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration,” including the deployment of its new National Guard, with a focus on its porous southern border with Guatemala. Mexico, however, had already intended to deploy the National Guard to the southern border and had made that clear to U.S. officials.

The U.S. also hailed Mexico’s agreement to embrace the expansion of a program under which some asylum-seekers are returned to Mexico as they wait out their cases. But the remain-in-Mexico program was implemented earlier this year and, from the start, U.S. officials have vowed to rapidly expand it, even without Mexico’s public support. Indeed, officials from the Department of Homeland Security were working to spread the program, which has already led to the return of about 10,000 to Mexico, before the latest blowup, though it has been plagued with scheduling glitches and delays. 

Administration officials noted the deal leaves open the possibility of “further actions” if “the measures adopted do not have the expected results.” And while the “third safe country” agreement did not make it into the deal, it is something officials plan to continue to discuss in the coming months.

The reversal nonetheless sparked mocking from Democrats, including Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who sarcastically declared Friday “an historic night!” after Trump claimed the deal would “greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also weighed in, calling the tariff threat “reckless” and panning the remain-in-Mexico policy as a violation of migrants’ legal rights.

“Threats and temper tantrums are no way to negotiate foreign policy,” she said.

This article was edited by TheBL.