This is a bit of sleuthing worthy of Sherlock Holmes. A Washington Post staff photographer took photos of the folded, secret missive that Trump displayed briefly Tuesday before he left for Iowa, and then put back in his pocket. Here’s what it said.
“the Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a view to ensuring that the agreement will enter into force within 45 days.” @realDonaldTrump #Mexico agreement. Second photo flipped @washingtonpost @postpolitics pic.twitter.com/lWuJU9bpYK
— Jabin Botsford (@jabinbotsford) June 11, 2019
EXCLUSIVE: Visible on Trump’s paper: "such agreement would… party’s domestic and international legal obligations, 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” pic.twitter.com/FzSkpa5w88
— Dan Froomkin (@froomkin) June 11, 2019
Here’s the entirety of what was cobbled together.
[UNREADABLE] such agreement would [UNREADABLE] party’s domestic and international legal obligations, 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 [UNREADABLE] other party. The parties further intend [UNREADABLE] an agreem[ent] [UNREADABLE] to burden-sharing in relation to the processing of refuge[es] [UNREADABLE].
Mexico also commits to immediate[ly] [UNREADABLE] domestic laws and regulations with a view to identifying any changes that [UNREADABLE] to bring into force and implement such an agreement.
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:
[SIGNATURE 1] [SIGNATURE 2]
On behalf of the United States On behalf of Mexico
The two signatures are not Trump’s and Lopez Obrador’s. The document is signed by Marik A. String, acting legal adviser in the U.S. State Department, and Alejandro Celorio Alcantara, a deputy legal adviser in Mexico’s Foreign Ministry. So the legitimacy of the document is called into question right off.
The Post says that the document deals with some kind of “burden-sharing” involving “refugees.” Washington Post:
The prevailing wisdom is that Trump, in citing a secret deal, may have been referring to some kind of pact involving asylum rules, possibly a “safe third country agreement” in which Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States would be held in Mexico while their claims are processed. (This is a controversial topic in Mexico, and the Mexican government has denied any such agreement.) That appears to be what this document deals with. We don’t generally refer to asylum seekers as “refugees,” but the concept is similar. The part about how “each party would accept the return, and process refugee status claims, of third-party nationals who have crossed that party’s territory” sounds a lot like some kind of “safe third” agreement.
Trump tweeted about an immigration and security “deal” two days ago, which the Mexican legislature was going to vote on. This is probably what he was referring to. The letter refers to a 45 day trigger date.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard held a news conference in which he said that the Friday agreement with the United States gave Mexico 45 days to prove that it could diminish migration without agreeing to a “safe third” deal.
He acknowledged that in 45 days, if the United States does not assess that progress has been made, the Trump administration probably will ask again for a “safe third” agreement. But he said Mexico has not committed to that agreement, which would have to be approved by lawmakers and probably negotiated with other countries in the region.
“It would be applied if we fail, and if we accept what they tell us,” Ebrard said.
The safe third agreement states that refugee claimants are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in, unless they qualify for an exception to the Agreement. This is why Ebrard said that the matter would have to be negotiated with other countries in the region.
Meanwhile, Mick Mulvaney said Tuesday that the public may never see Trump’s secret deal. MSNBC:
“If I told you, it wouldn’t be the secret part of the deal, right?” Mulvaney said at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s Fiscal Summit.
Asked when the public would see the secret deal, Mulvaney responded: “Maybe never.”
“Because if it works, it doesn’t make any difference,” Mulvaney said. He added: “The purpose here is not to satisfy your journalistic sort of, you know, inquiries as to what the deal is. The goal is to reduce the number of people crossing the border.
Authoritarian, much? Now the people have no right to know what international agreements the government is entering into? Trump will just do what he wants? This newest asinine comment from Mulvaney says it all — both about the legitimacy of the so-called deal and about Mulvaney, who is a Giuliani-esque clown/shill with the title Acting Chief of Staff. But what i wouldn’t have given to see his face when he saw the Washington Post Wednesday morning.
See this for exactly what it is. Trump’s reelection campaign officially launches on Tuesday and he wants to have something to strut and brag about to impress the base on his signature issue, immigration. It’s doubtful that Trump is going to reshape geopolitics in 45 days, with Mexico’s assistance, but it will make for good copy and Fox News will get some mileage out of it. I hope it’s a bit more credible than the fish story he told in Iowa yesterday about how Chinese tariffs are “bringing billions of dollars” into the United States, when American companies are the ones paying the freight. Trump and his supporters are the perfect paradigm of the blind leading the blind. They don’t know how tariffs work, apparently, and neither does he — but as long as it sounds good, they’ll go punch the card in the voting booth. At least, that’s what Trump’s depending on. That much is obvious.