Despite pleas from President Donald Trump and U.S. immigration authorities to help deal with a surge of migrants at the U.S. Southwest border earlier this year, Congress failed to enact meaningful reforms to deal with the problem.
So the president “outsourced” the problem to Mexico and, in doing so, sought an explicit ‘quid pro quo’ using a combination of diplomacy, offers of aid, and punitive measures like tariffs, the Washington Times reported Friday.
In addition to getting help from Mexican officials, the president also managed to receive help from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, the three Central American countries were most of the migrants inundating the U.S. border came from earlier this year.
Since then, illegal immigration levels have fallen from a peak in May to much more manageable numbers today, and they were are still falling, the Times reported.
“It is painfully ironic that Mexico has done more than Congress to stem the tide of illegal immigration to our southern border since May,” Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy Homeland Security secretary, told the paper.
“Mexico is not perfect by any means, but they’re doing more now than any time in your adult lifetime to partner with us actively to drive the numbers down.”
The change comes mostly from a reduction in incentives. Before, migrants who reached the U.S. would almost be assured of being released into the interior rather quickly, but that changed with administration policies and Mexican help.
Under President Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols, nicknamed the “Remain in Mexico” policy, tens of thousands of migrants either were returned to Mexico or never made it into the United States.
The MPP requires asylum seekers to stay in Mexico to wait for their hearing dates in U.S. immigration courts. Before, most asylum seekers would never return for their hearings, federal figures show.
The policy, along with increased enforcement by Mexico of its own borders, has greatly reduced illegal immigration.
Crossing the illegally now comes with real consequences, and that means they have been able to end the “catch and release” policy, the Times said.
“It still happens in certain situations, but it’s not the rule anymore. And once it ends as the rule, you have illegal immigration drop exponentially,” noted Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council.
“The administration outsourced the problem to Mexico. Mexico solved the problem for us,” he added.