Mexico concedes to asylum deal if current plan with Trump falls through

Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Monday that his government would consider a regional asylum agreement if enforcement measures agreed to last week in Washington fail to stem the tide of migrants northward.

Speaking during his government’s daily morning press conference in Mexico City, Ebrard said a broader dialogue on asylum could involve Guatemala, Panama and Brazil.

“We trust that the measures we have proposed will be successful,” he said. “But if they’re not, we’re going to have to participate in this kind of discussion.”

The potential regional asylum pact — reported by several media outlets last week —was the mysterious “very important” concession that Trump referenced in a tweet Monday morning, Ebrard said.

In Washington, President Donald Trump intensified his defense of the widely panned agreement with Mexico, even calling into a cable news show for nearly half an hour Monday to proclaim the deal as a victory.

After a weekend during which he railed against news reports poking holes in his claims — some of which are so far unsubstantiated — that Mexico had agreed to significant new concessions on immigration enforcement to avert tariffs, the president took to the airwaves to argue his case.

Apparently responding to an earlier interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” during which Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs at the Chamber of Commerce, attacked Trump’s “weaponization of tariffs,” the president called in to fight back.

“It’s nonsense,” he said of reports that the concessions he touted had been previously agreed to. “We talked about it for months and months and months. And they wouldn’t get there.”

Ebrard contradicted Trump’s claim over the weekend that Mexico had agreed to increase purchases of U.S. agricultural goods. “There’s no agreement outside of [the joint declaration released Friday evening],” he said.

But Ebrard said the parties would meet and evaluate the efficacy of the immigration measures in 45 days, a tighter timeline than the 90 days mentioned in the joint agreement.

Mexico’s top diplomat stressed that the U.S. pressed for a “safe third country” agreement in the negotiations, but that the Mexican delegation “had many reservations” about that sort of pact.

Under such an agreement, migrants would be required to seek asylum in Mexico if they passed through that country en route to the U.S.

During his call-in to CNBC, Trump dismissed the dire economic consequences experts had warned of if the 5 percent tariffs had gone into effect. He also mischaracterized who would be hit hardest by the levies, which almost always are passed onto consumers. “We said, look, if you don’t get there, we’re going to have to charge you hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. We would have been just fine,” Trump argued.

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