Donald Trump declared victory in his tariff threat to Mexico over the weekend, saying that Mexico would “take strong measures” to stop the flow of migrants from Central America to the United States in order to avoid the threatened 5% tariffs that could have tanked both nations’ economies. Mexico will divert national guard troops from their work fighting crime, instead stationing them in southern Mexico to deter migrants, and will expand a program under which asylum seekers stay in Mexico rather than enter the U.S. to pursue their asylum cases.
The question, as always, is how the Trump administration’s first claims about a deal match up with the details we will later learn. As The New York Times reported over the weekend, Mexico had already agreed to both national guard deployments and the Migrant Protection Protocols months ago, and the latter is under legal challenge already. The Trump administration is claiming there are new agreements in place to expand both dramatically, but … we’ll see. Mexico also pushed back on Trump’s caps-locked claim that “MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!”
As Mark Sumner noted after Trump announced that he had a deal, “The whole cycle: Manufactured crisis, chest-pounding threat, no definition of a solution, repeated statements of toughness, and a last minute declaration of ‘victory’ despite nothing really changing is the absolute definition of Trump.” But it’s once again enough for some positive coverage, even as there are signs that media outlets have started learning this lesson. It will certainly give Trump’s supporters an excuse to feel like winners for a day. And it got Republican senators back on board after they’d been critical of Trump’s tariff plans. Because if there are two groups of people actively looking not to learn the lesson that Trump’s claims about his deals are always overblown, it’s Trump voters and congressional Republicans.