Mexico’s Senate Wants Peña Nieto To ‘End Cooperation’ With The US. He Has 150 Million Reasons Not To

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Mexico’s senate angrily denounced President Donald Trump’s decision to send the National Guard to the southern border, passing a resolution calling for an end to cooperation on illegal immigration and drug trafficking until the troops are withdrawn.

Senate leaders called Trump’s order “one more insult” on top of his previous criticism of Mexico in a string of tweets earlier this week.

“(Trump’s) conduct has been permanently and systematically, not only disrespectful, but insulting, based on prejudices and misinformation and making frequent use of threats and blackmail,” Laura Rojas, the head of the Senate’s foreign relations committee, said in support of the motion, according to Reuters.

The resolution, which is non-binding, asks Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to freeze bilateral efforts “in the fight against transnational organized crime” until Trump acts “with the civility and respect that the people of Mexico deserve.”

Pena Nieto has said he will wait to see what the border deployment looks like before delivering an official response on the issue. Though he is leaving office later this year — Mexico’s president is limited to one six-year term — Pena Nieto is unlikely to authorize any policy changes that would reduce cooperation with Washington on cross-border security issues.

That’s because Mexico is a major recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, typically the third largest in the Western Hemisphere behind Colombia and Haiti. In 2017, the U.S. gave Mexico $139 million in foreign aid to bolster rule of law and democracy initiatives and combat transnational criminal organizations.

The Trump administration proposed a 37 percent cut in foreign aid to Mexico for fiscal year 2018, in keeping with its proposal to slash foreign assistance across the board. Congress ignored that request in the omnibus spending bill and actually boosted assistance to Mexico by 10 percent to $153 million.

Washington and Mexico City have long worked hand in glove to fight major drug trafficking organizations and reform Mexico’s notoriously corrupt law enforcement agencies. The relationship has become strained under Trump, who has publicly criticized Mexico for what he sees as its failure to control the northward flow of drugs and people across the border.

Still, Trump administration officials say working relationship with Mexico is vital to U.S. border security goals. Following her visit to Mexico last week, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen praised the Mexican government for an “excellent” discussion about “shared security and economic interests.”

On Thursday, Trump softened his criticism somewhat, crediting Mexican authorities for breaking up a caravan of migrants heading north through Mexcio toward the U.S. border.

“The Caravan is largely broken up thanks to the strong immigration laws of Mexico and their willingness to use them so as not to cause a giant scene at our Border,” he said on Twitter. “Because of the Trump Administrations actions, Border crossings are at a still UNACCEPTABLE 46 year low. Stop drugs!”

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Until it was disbanded earlier this week, the caravan consisted of about 1,200 mostly Honduran asylum seekers who were traveling in a procession to publicize the danger of migrating through Mexico to the U.S. Though such marches have happened before, this year’s caravan was widely publicized thanks to a BuzzFeed News report titled “A Huge Caravan Of Central Americans Is Headed For The US, And No One In Mexico Dares To Stop Them.”

The report launched a deluge of coverage in American media, prompting Trump to respond with a flurry of public denouncements of both the Mexican government and U.S. immigration law. Trump’s response culminated in his Wednesday order authorizing a National Guard deployment to the southwest border.

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