Trump advances against Mexican cartels despite cabinet opposition

Earlier this month, Trump said he was postponing the plan at the request of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, yet the plan still is “an open possibility”.

WASHINGTON D.C. (Reuters) – Cabinet members and U.S. government advisers expressed concern about the measure because it jeopardizes cooperation to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking at the border

In the weeks before U.S. President said that he would go ahead and designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, cabinet members and government advisers recommended against doing so, five people with knowledge of the issue told Reuters in an interview.

The recommendations, which some of the sources describe as unanimous, had not been previously reported and were due in part to concerns that it would damage the US – Mexico ties, jeopardizing cooperation to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking at the border, two sources, including a senior government official, said.

In addition, there were warnings that migrants could be granted asylum in the United States on the grounds that they are fleeing terrorism, the senior government official and two other sources said.

Stephen Miller, one of the White House’s most influential advisers and the architect of Trump’s policies to stop immigration, was among the officials who expressed concern during discussions that preceded two meetings that ended up shelving the plan, according to two of the sources.

The White House and Miller declined to comment publicly on the issue. All the sources who spoke to Reuters requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue with the press.

Reuters was unable to determine whether the president had been informed of the recommendations before announcing during a Nov. 26 interview with conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly that he was moving forward with the plan.

Trump’s Strategic Move
Less than two weeks later, on December 9, the president tweeted that he was postponing the plan at the request of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The senior government official described the president’s announcement not as a retraction, but as a strategic move. “Even the threat of designation (as terrorist groups to the Mexican cartels) was an extremely useful lever in terms of obtaining greater cooperation” from Mexico, the official said.

The official said reviving the plan is “an open possibility” depending on Mexico’s cooperation on issues such as sealing the border to drug trafficking and controlling migration.

The Mexican government has argued that equating drug cartels with Islamic rule and al-Qaida could open the door to U.S. military intervention.

In a Dec. 5 meeting with U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Lopez Obrador expressed his opposition to the plan and said the Mexican constitution would not allow such foreign interference, a presidential spokesman told Reuters.

One thing should be clear to Lopez Obrador… the Trump administration says one thing but always does another. 


The Yucatan Times