The U.S. State Department announced Friday night that Mexico would be deploying its National Guard troops throughout its country to curb illegal immigration as part of the deal President Donald Trump boasted about after threatening Mexico with a controversial 5% tariff.
However, according to a New York Times report on Saturday, Mexico had already agreed to deploy troops months before Trump threatened the country with tariffs.
Mexico made the promise during secret talks with then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Mexican Secretary of the Interior Olga Sanchez back in March, the Times reported, citing Mexican and U.S. officials familiar with the negotiations.
The difference between the promise made in March and the one announced Friday night is the number of troops that will be deployed to various parts of Mexico, with the U.S.-Mexico border being a priority. According to the Times, the 5,400 Mexican troops in Friday’s joint agreement is a much larger number than what Mexico had promised in March.
In late May, Trump threatened Mexico with a 5% tariff on any goods coming into the U.S. from the country, set to start on Monday, if Mexico did not agree to his terms on addressing the illegal border crossings by migrants from Central America.
If true, the Times report would confirm assumptions made by Trump’s critics that the deal won’t solve any real issues.
After the deal was announced Friday night, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) mocked Trump, sarcastically calling the event “an historic night!”
“Now that the problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future,” Schumer tweeted.
After the Times’ report was published Saturday, Schumer handed down a sharper rebuke of the deal, arguing that Mexico had already agreed to many “components” of it.
“This is likely to be one of the president’s typical, bogus solutions to justify backing off things like the tariffs,” the senator tweeted.
He added: “This is likely to have only a small impact on solving the root causes of Central American migration because many of the components are things Mexico had already said they would do.”
Another central part of the U.S.-Mexico agreement stems from a prior deal Mexican officials made with the U.S. State Department.
The deal announced Friday expands an existing program known as the Migrant Protection Protocols which was formalized in January and involves Mexico taking in and accommodating migrants who have applied for asylum in the U.S. and are awaiting legal proceedings.
Trump appeared confident in the deal on Saturday morning.