WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, President Donald Trump went in front of reporters, took a piece of paper out of his front pocket, and said it was his “secret” deal with Mexico concerning stemming the flow of Central American migrants to the U.S. southern border.
“That’s the agreement that everybody says I don’t have,” Trump said. “I’m going to let Mexico do the announcement at the right time.”
Once the president started waving around what he called his “secret agreement,” an enterprising Washington Post photographer, Jabin Botsford, managed to get a picture of it at just the right angle and lighting to make the text faintly visible.
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The photograph captures what indeed appear to be details of a plan with Mexico. Last Friday, the Trump administration withdrew a tariff threat against Mexico after Trump announced that the two countries had reached a deal that would restrict Central American migration to the United States. Trump said that he had reached other deals with Mexico beyond the one announced on Friday, but did not reveal any specifics at the time.
Here’s what the paper seemed to say in the segment Botsford photographed:
If the United States determines, at its discretion and after consultation with Mexico, after 45 calendar days from the date of the issuance of the Joint Declaration, that the measures adopted by the Government of Mexico pursuant to the Joint Declaration have not sufficiently achieved results in addressing the flow of migrants to the southern border of the United States, the Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under the domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a view to ensuring that the agreement will enter into force within 45 days.
Signed on this 7th of June, 2019 in Washington, D.C. by:
It’s unclear what exactly this section means other than establishing a timeframe for the agreement. Trump has said that the Mexican legislature would need to take further actions to establish his secret agreement.
It’s harder to make out the top section of the paper in a picture from White House Watch. The Washington Post suggests that this section may contain language alluding to one of the main points of contention between the United States and Mexico — the establishment of a “safe third country agreement.” The one section that’s visible appears to say:
a commitment under which each party would accept the return, and process refugee status claims, of third-party nationals who have crossed that party’s territory
The Trump administration has been trying to get Mexico to agree to a safe third country agreement, which would mean that asylum-seekers would have to apply for asylum status in the first country they land in. Canada and the United States already have such an agreement. Mexico, on the other hand, publicly opposes such an agreement.
The Washington Post reported that Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard held a news conference Monday on the deal previously reached between the United States and Mexico. According to Ebrard, Mexico had 45 days to reduce migration before the United States might threaten to force Mexico to agree to a safe third country agreement.
“It would be applied if we fail, and if we accept what they tell us,” Ebrard said.
Contributing: David Jackson and John Fritze